Published August 29, 2014
- What we think
- Surprising. Spicy, pickled, zesty.
- Laid back, rustic, dark.
- Basically a bare basement—but offers great outdoor seating.
- Friendly waiters, could check on the diners a bit more.
- Price for 2 (no drinks)
- 6.000- 7.000
Hverfisgata 12, 101 Reykjavík
Much like the version of himself Ted Danson portrayed in the cult TV hit show ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’—in which Mr. Danson donated handsomely, and anonymously, to a good cause—there was a huge buzz this spring about a new pizza place that was, and remains, anonymous. Locals were very eager to know more about this nameless new establishment—simply referred to by its address, Hverfisgata 12—which had clearly done well with its word-of-mouth marketing strategy. People gave more attention to the anonymous method than to those putting themselves out there in a more ostentatious fashion, much like the Ted Danson vs Larry David storyline on ‘Curb.’
Hverfisgata 12 is run by the same crew that brought us Kex Hostel, and the vibe is very similar: kind of hipsteresque, without the customer really knowing if it’s authentic. It makes good use of used furniture, with dark dining spaces and rustic wooden floors. The restaurant’s many dining tables are spread through three stories of a huge old house that was built as a residence, rather than a restaurant. This, in fact, is where its charm lies, making the place feel cosy and homely.
To the menu: Hverfisgata 12 offers an impressive variety of local craft beers, in keeping with its abovementioned hipsterocity. The bar is something that they can be proud of—there’s a cocktail menu on hand, with fair prices (especially by Icelandic standards). My companion and I ordered a simple G&T (1,400 ISK) and a Tom Collins (1,700 ISK), both of which were very satisfying—not a given, with a Tom Collins.
The short and concise menu appears in the form of a placemat and offers a half-dozen snacks and appetisers, four smaller courses, a dozen handcrafted sourdough pizzas, and four dessert choices. My companion chose to start with the “Raw Vegetable Plate,” complete with dip and crispy crumbs. This was a fresh and pleasing selection of root vegetables, cut into to strips and presented with a basil yoghurt dressing. I chose the “Crispy Ears Of Two Pigs “(650 ISK). This is basically pork crackling, which is not to everybody’s taste, but worked well here, served with a sour lemon mayo that complemented the dish nicely. A draft IPA would be a recommended accompaniment.
All of the pizzas at Hverfisgata 12 are made with sourdough bases—thin and crispy, with a zesty sauce. But make no mistake, the only pizzas available are the ones on the menu—there is no “build your own” option.
For dinner this time, my companion chose a baked tomato and pesto pizza (2,350 ISK)—simple, and delightfully executed. I’m usually very much against using tomatoes as a topping, but these cherry tomatoes had been drained and baked beforehand, offering a deep flavour with a nice smoky note.
I chose the “Etruscan Elite” (2,350 ISK). Also sans meat, it was topped with olives, cheese, salad and Parmesan shavings. Usually you might find rucola leaves on such a pizza, but this time there was a crispier kind of romaine lettuce. Personally, I would have preferred the classic rucola.
It should be mentioned of course that the pizza menu at Hverfisgata 12 greatly varies from the norm—this is a restaurant where no topping is considered off-limits, the menu sporting stuff like seaweed, vanilla, apples, pulled pork ears and horseradish mayo. I’ve also tried the spicy sausage and pickled chilli pizza, and that was pretty damn good too.
My companion and I had a good time and a fine meal. The atmosphere is laid back, the drinks are good, and the music is of the retro new-wave kind that everyone can enjoy—cool enough, but nothing that plays to the lowest common denominator. They are trying to be original, after all.