Culture
Food
Heeeeere’s Jamie: A Visit To Jamie’s Italian

Heeeeere’s Jamie: A Visit To Jamie’s Italian

Words by
Photos by
Art Bicnick

Published September 6, 2017

When ‘The Naked Chef’ first aired on the telly, the intention was that it’d encourage ‘blokes’ to step up in the kitchen. Whether that worked or not, Jamie Oliver did become an international sensation with a wild following (possibly due to that British accent). Riding the ensuing wave of popularity, a new branch of the Jamie’s Italian restaurant chain opened its doors in Reykjavik a few weeks ago.

The restaurant made waves online  before opening with a post about a certain salmon farm in Iceland, which didn’t go down well with the locals. I decided to lunch there and put these doubts to rest—and to see if the sullied salmon made it to the menu.

Location, location

Jón Haukur Baldvinsson is the business partner who brought Jamie’s Italian to Reykjavik. “I have been very fond of Jamie Oliver and his values on food standards, quality ingredients, and the simplicity of his cooking,” he explains. “I started playing in the kitchen from his books and shows, because he’s so enthusiastic and passionate. We also knew that he was interested in Icelandic food culture—we just needed to find the perfect spot for him in Reykjavík. And what could be more fitting than the iconic Hotel Borg?”

Hotel Borg is certainly an apt location. True to the Jamie Oliver brand’s ‘family first’ approach, the interiors of the new restaurant are group- and child-friendly, spacious and inviting. During the course of redesign, an art piece from the 1920s was discovered, adding a nice touch of history.

Planks and Pasta

Scarpi, our waiter for the day, recommended the planks and pasta. While the ‘planks’ (1,790 ISK) are a little gimmicky, the cold cuts are not. The mozzarella is local, and the salumi imported from the restaurant’s own supply chains in Italy.

“The head chef is on the record saying that the local Icelandic diners have been neglected.”

The menu is faithful to the larger chain, with a nod to local produce. The pasta is made in-house—a matter of pride for the restaurant. We sampled an assortment of dishes. Our favourite was the sausage casarecce (1,990/3,190 ISK), a freeform pasta with a pork and fennel sausage ragu, served along with another first in Iceland, cime di rapa, a broccoli rabe varietal. Gennaro’s Bolognese (1,790/2,990 ISK) is a silky tagliatelle with a deeply flavoured sauce. This is no Icelandic “spaghetti og kjötsósa,” and comes recommended.

We spotted a lamb lasagna as well. As Jón says: “We’re the only Jamie’s Italian to have lamb in our lasagna, and it’s incredible. The international food team is impressed with the outcome.”

“It’s a family restaurant, and it was very important to have fair pricing.”

Despite the friendly service and tasty food, what struck us most was the pricing. Jóhannes Steinn, the head chef, is on the record saying that local Icelandic diners have been neglected, and that the pricing of Jamie’s Italian is designed in part to attract a local clientele. Jón says it was a conscious decision. “It was a must when we were negotiating the franchise deal,” he explains. “It’s a family restaurant, and it was very important to have fair pricing.”

I didn’t encounter any of the online criticism the chain has seemed to garner. It’s a cut above similar restaurants in town, with handmade pasta, above average imports, affordable wine, and locally sourced ingredients, such as the cheese. And the infamous salmon? Absent.

Jamie’s Italian seems well on its way to securing a steady place as a family favourite, without breaking the bank. And that’s as good as it gets in Reykjavik today.


Culture
Food
Let Them Eat Rugbrauð: Five Cheap Meals In Reykjavík

Let Them Eat Rugbrauð: Five Cheap Meals In Reykjavík

by and

As tourists often loudly announce, eating out sure ain’t cheap here in Rekkyvick. So we thought it might be helpful

Culture
Food
Caught! A Pop-Up At Nostra Anchored By The Wild.Caught.Found Ethos

Caught! A Pop-Up At Nostra Anchored By The Wild.Caught.Found Ethos

by

Nostra has only been open a few months, but the latest addition to Reykjavik’s fine dining scene has been creating

Culture
Food
Eat It, Or Frame It? Slippurinn Eatery Pops Up At Apotek

Eat It, Or Frame It? Slippurinn Eatery Pops Up At Apotek

by

The family-run Slippurinn Eatery in the Westman Islands is one of Iceland’s beloved regional restaurants. Open only during the summer,

Culture
Food
New Restaurant To Open At Hotel Holt, Run By KEX And Dill Chef

New Restaurant To Open At Hotel Holt, Run By KEX And Dill Chef

by

An intriguing new restaurant is under development at Hotel Holt. After the closure of long-running restaurant Gallery Holt, the Kex

Culture
Food
Pizza Perfection: Iceland’s First Napoli-Style Pizzeria Delivers

Pizza Perfection: Iceland’s First Napoli-Style Pizzeria Delivers

by

Pizzas and burgers get Icelanders’ hearts racing like nothing else. When Domino’s first opened its doors in Reykjavik in the

Culture
Food
Slippurinn Chef To Host Downtown Reykjavík Pop-Up At Apotek

Slippurinn Chef To Host Downtown Reykjavík Pop-Up At Apotek

by

Gísli Matthías Auðunsson is a star chef on Iceland’s restaurant scene, and the man behind the menu of the much-admired

Show Me More!