La Primavera - www.laprimavera.is
Chef's 5 course set menu - 7.300 ISK
La Primavera is Iceland's most expensive Italian / Icelandic restaurant and for this reason I was expecting to find the best home-made pasta this side of Napoli. Things started off well, excellent artisan breads and good olive oil were followed by a generous langoustine starter which could satisfy two. It was a welcome change to see Icelandic lobsters (which are just fat langoustines) served in a fresh Mediterranean style with tomato and courgette.
The all-Italian wine list was impressive and reasonably priced, varying from 4,800 to 6,800. We settled for a rich and refined Pinot Blanc / Bianco from Alois Lageder, a consistently good producer from northern Italy, but they also had the extremely popular Greccante from Arnaldo Caprai for 5,150.
On to the main courses. My pasta of the day, cannelloni filled with wild mushrooms, shrimp and spinach tasted like wind-dried socks with chewy bits of overcooked frozen shrimp and scraggly bits of spinach and dried mushrooms. No sign of a fresh tomato sauce but a drizzle of something sad which did little to inject much-needed life into my pasta pockets of despair. My friend had the black spaghetti with tiger shrimps, garlic and chili - much tastier but the few strands of pasta came with a huge heap of imported frozen Thai tiger shrimps which isn´t what you really want in a country known for its heavenly fresh seafood.
Dessert was excellent - a good home-made tiramisu - but the sweet wines which accompanied were disappointing. The Vin Santo and Recioto were from good producers, but tasted as if they had spent too long sitting in opened bottles.
The price for all this was over 9,000 ISK each - putting La Primavera up there in the upper echelon's of Reykjavik fine dining establishments. But for this price, one expects home-made pasta rather than dried, imported pasta, however good the manufacturer is. One should also expect fresh, local ingredients rather than frozen Asian imports, however big or impressive the shrimps may look. Ultimately it's the taste that counts.