Ítalía - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Ítalía

Ítalía

Published June 30, 2006

It’s a bit odd to write a restaurant review about a place you have been frequenting for over a decade, so this isn’t going to be a walk through an evening of exploring a strange menu and assessing the decor. No, we knew exactly what to expect when we arrived in anticipation of an authentic Italian meal.
The appropriately named Ítalía restaurant has been operated by the same two Italians since it was first opened in 1991. Back then there was simply nowhere else to go for a decent pizza or pasta that wasn’t overboiled, and their stable menu has remained consistantly excellent since those early days. Pizza has become ubiquitous in the Icelandic dining scene, but I would still argue that few make the simple dish better than the folks at Ítalía. If you want something a little less commonplace there is a variety of authentic Italian fish and meat dishes available, the Venecian tuna steak especially comes to mind.
Pasta is another thing you would expect this place to do well, and they don’t disappoint on that front either. A personal favorite of mine is the outrageously rich rigatoni with creamy four cheese sauce and broccoli. Admittedly, you’d be a hero to get through the meal without feeling queasy and disgusted with yourself at some point – but it’s just-so-good. And, hey, the broccoli makes it health food.
The dessert menu isn’t extensive, but all the items on it are more than acceptable. You have your Italian gelato ice cream, chocolate cake with fresh fruits and cream, etc. That being said, I’ve never been much of a fan of eating dessert at Ítalía, since the meal invariably leaves one too full to even contemplate any further gastronomical adventures. Overall, Ítalía is an affordable place to go for good, authentic Italian cooking. There is one drawback, however: the decor. Although it is arguably part of the place’s low-key charm, and a conscious effort has been made to keep things looking identical throughout the years and one major fire, it’s just a little bit tacky for a restaurant of this quality. But hey, maybe they just save on the decorations, pass it on to the consumer and that’s why you can get one of the best pizzas in town there without breaking 2000 krónur?

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