Ítalía: The ONLY Italian in town

Impressive entrance

Impressive entrance

Me and Sverrir, our Guest Service Manager, make the 3 minute stroll from the hotel to the main street a couple of times each week to enjoy lunch away from work. A few weeks ago, we decided to splurge on what is considered a nice/expensive casual restaurant in Ítalía Restaurant. This is pretty much the first place pizza was served in Iceland when it was opened over a quarter of a century ago. And the interior has basically stayed the same the whole time, even after a serious fire, they simply re-did what had always worked. In a city where the restaurant business is fierce and things change all the time, it is comforting to know some things just stay good.

Ítalía is known for excellent pasta dishes with fantastic sauce and wood oven pizzas besides the intimate or cozy atmosphere in booths dedicated to cities in Italy. What we were not told when we sat down for lunch on the first work day those weeks ago, is that Ítalía offers 50% off all food items on the menu during lunch hours on weekdays! Not only is that great value, it´s keeping things simple for that time of day. No exceptions. You can have a fantastic pizza, the way it was meant to be enjoyed for a mere 1350isk (approx 11usd). In downtown Reykjavík at a atmospheric restaurant, that is fantastic value.

Needless to say, in the last few weeks, we have enjoyed a meal there at least once a week. Even when you double the prices for a date in the evening, you will not regret giving these guys a try. They are worth it for lunch or dinner.

Ítalía is located only 5 minutes walk from the hotel. Just take a right towards the main street and when you reach it, look 20 meters to your left and there it is. The front looks like it was imported in one piece from Florence, unmistakably Ítalían and simply open 11:30am to 11:30pm EVERYDAY!

Iceland´s Funniest 5 People- 5th Place: Laddi

ImageThe Man of a Million Characters:

Laddi, or Þórhallur Sigurðsson, as nobody recognizes him as, has been one of Iceland´s most beloved comedians for the last 30 years. In his 60´s now, he has slowed down somewhat after selling out his one man show for months, celebrating his 60th birthday by sharing all his personalities with the Icelandic people. He is one of few people that Icelanders of all ages will recognize if you mention his name.

Laddi is known as a direct comedian. His personality is not well known and he does not pour much of it into his character. His performances are usually very flamboyant and consuming so you will not hear him lashing out on Twitter about anything or complaining on a talk show about anything. He is the opposite of the types he plays.

Although you will not understand much of what he is saying, I´m sure you will see the range of his talent from these samples of his work:

-Salomon Gustafsson, the Swedish alcoholic, trying to get sober in Iceland of all places, loses his suitcase and apparently his mind when he meets Stella in Stella í Orlofi, an 80´s comedy favorite.

-Laddi was the voice of all the Smurfs when the cartoon first reached Iceland.

-In drag, the fabulous Laddi as Elsa Lund, an aggressive cougar from the Faroe Islands, infiltrates the Hemmi Gunn show, the Icelandic version of the Jay Leno show.

-As Dr. Saxi in Heilsbælið, Laddi is a perverted high strung doctor, manipulating patience and showing a complete disregard for common decensy.

Best Burger?: Vegamót

the juicy a La Vegamót burger is a treat.

the juicy a La Vegamót burger is a treat.

Venue: Vegamót

Atmosphere: Casual café

Burger: a la Vegamót 150 gr.    With bacon, parma ham, cheese, lettuce, onion and bernaise sauce.   2.190isk 

Fries: Straws  (included)

Service: Great

Value: Good. Pricey but ultimately you get what you pay for.

Vegamót is one of very few cafés and nightclubs that has been consistently popular since it opened in the 90´s. This is mainly due to the location, their expansive menu that offers pizzas, paninis, fish, Mexican and of course burgers at affordable prices. They also have a deck that is perfectly placed on sunny days, sheltering patrons from the wind that sometimes puts a damper on enjoyment. Vegamót is still popular amongst the semi-famous in Iceland for a hangover brunch, a casual salad or just a drink or two.

The signature burger at Vegamót is special because it is one of the first in town to feature the buttery bernaise sauce which is a main staple of lamb steaks in Iceland. That no longer makes it special since many burger joints in town are now doing it but what keeps it unique is the parma ham along with the bacon. This combination makes it a great burger. The buttery bernaise goes perfectly with the salty and delicately flavourful ham on top.

The beef itself is 150gr. so this is not one of these greasy spoon basket burgers. This is for the more discerning palate.

Vegamot-InsideSadly, on the day we visited Vegamót, the fries were off. Personally, I prefer chunky potato fries but most people prefer the straws. However, on this day, they were too crunchy as if they were overcooked to a crisp without having the color to prove it. The portion of fries was also not very good value for money but the main thing, the burger, was very enjoyable and will definitely be up there among the elite.

Considering how busy the place usually is, the service staff is well organised and efficient. Wait time is shorter than you could expect on busy days and the staff is attentive without being too intrusive. Nothing here to complain about.

#Hint2Holt: Give us a hint!

surprise faceWe love giving unforgettable service, wow moments and going the extra mile for our guests. But it´s sometimes hard coming up with ways to do exactly that. That´s why we´ve thought of a new way you can help us wow you! Let´s call it #Hint2Holt.

If you take a picture or write a text in social media or even just send us an e-mail or join the 24/7 live chat on our website and use the hashtag “Hint2Holt”, we will do our utmost to take that hint and turn it into something nice that will make you smile when you arrive or if you are already in the hotel, when you get back from an excursion or meeting.

Please remember that if your username has no connection to your real name, we might have trouble attributing your hint to yourself so in some cases it might be prudent to add your last name or full name in a hashtag along with the #Hint2Holt one. That way, we can really go for it!

Hopefully we can have some fun with this together!

Of course, we would like to use this opportunity to remind you of all our social media connections where we will be looking for this hashtag.