The status of Italian food in Iceland has long been dire and I find it unlikely to change as Italian food is not particularly fashionable at the moment. Your average young person (AYP) is more likely to seek out sushi or ceviche than splurge on the pasta they’ve been making at home the whole week. Personally, I haven’t been that interested in Italian food lately unless we’re talking about Ancient Roman cuisine (fattened dormice, boiled lupin, snails with fish sauce and spiced date wine are all overdue for a comeback!). La Luna goes some way towards addressing the situation but not far enough to find new converts.
So I decided to take my thirteen-year-old pasta fan of a nephew along for the ride. Both of us had a bit of a laugh at the menu which, despite La Luna labelling itself as a simple family-run trattoria, had the most ridiculously over-wrought meal descriptions that wouldn’t look out of place in a Mad Men print ad. And the TV ads La Luna have been running aren’t exactly helping (same copy delivered in a ludicrous Italian accent). But the crazy thing is that the location could actually live up to those descriptions. La Luna is situated in a beautiful old brewery on the east side of town and sports an iron fireplace, a hundred year old safe, thick stone walls and beautiful spiral staircase leading up to a bronze dome. Again the details work against them as the faux-antiques and pulp novels that litter the place are letting the gorgeous interiors down.
After watching my nephew down six whiskey sours in the first half hour I decided we better order the first course before he’d pass out (I’m kidding, but we did go through four bottles of water, which is nuts).
We started with the antipasto for two (1,990 ISK), which consisted of a so-so prosciutto, some type of salamio piccante, parmigiano shavings, a tapenade and a cold creamy mushroom sauce and a few thin slices of dry bread. The creamy sauce was the tastiest thing in there—otherwise I’d recommend the charcuiterie at Hótel Marína instead.
La Luna do serve “paddella pasta” (padella pasta), which is a pan of pasta to be shared by the table but my nephew and I had different ideas and he decided to have the tagliatelle al mare (frutti di mare) and I had the “pizza marinera” (pizza ai frutti di mare—“pizza marinera” has nothing to do with seafood last I checked) but seeing as the restaurant hadn’t had seafood on offer for over a week (according to the waiter), I settled on a lobster pizza (2,490 ISK) and the nephew switched grudgingly to the spaghetti con polpette (1,990 ISK).
The spaghetti con polpette was all right, the meatballs were tiny and flavourful but the pasta did not taste particularly fresh and the sauce could have used another hour on the stove.
The pizza was actually quite good—made in a proper wood burning pizza oven. It was a nice, thin Lazio pizza with plenty of artichoke and not too much oil. It definitely seems the pizza is the way to go at La Luna.
For dessert we had the “Apple adventure” (1,790 ISK), which was a two-layer pie with a thin layer of applesauce and too much cinnamon topped with scoops of ice cream. The kid had his heart set on vanilla ice cream, but again they were in short supply so he decided on a tasty and toffee-like lemon ice cream, which regrettably did not go well with the apple pizza. Chunks of freshly baked apples, less cinnamon and a sweeter crust might have saved the apple pizza.
I had the “Chocolate chocolate,” which was the long plate with three types of chocolate we see in so many restaurants in Iceland these days: lava cake, chocolate ice cream and a tough peanut brownie served with a frosted glass of whole milk (1,390 ISK). We both agreed that the inclusion of the milk was a stroke of genius and something every restaurant in Iceland should take up. Overall it was a pretty good dessert and moderately priced.
The service left something to be desired. We took a table in a nook by a cast iron stove, which seemed to cause frequent bouts of amnesia in the kitchen. Almost an hour went by between finishing the main course and the dessert, and the waiter seemed disinterested and shot us suspicious glances (we did build a little castle out of cutlery while we were waiting but we put it all back—promise!).
…means that the moon has collided with earth killing all of mankind and similes about pizza pies are the least of your worries!