Essensia 13 © Roman GerasymenkoForget pizzas with pepperoni, this restaurant, which was recently featured on Dining Advisor, serves pizzas with potato, bacon and cheese. Out of the ordinary and perhaps weird, but one of the restaurant’s signature dishes and according to the staff there, a very popular one. Located next to the upmarket 101 Hotel and close to the National Theatre in central Reykjavík, the Essensia restaurant, whose head chef is Hákon Már Örvarsson, offers guests a blend of Italian and Mediterranean cuisine prepared in a fresh and simple way that emphasizes the quality of the ingredients and “lets them shine”. Essensia 14 © Roman Gerasymenko

We were ravenous during our visit to the restaurant and decided to go for the 7-Course Essensia Experience (8,990 ISK) which lasted over two hours. Looking around at the stylish design features of the bar and open kitchen where a fire-engine red pizza oven dominated the scene, we settled into our comfortable, moss-and-mustard-coloured velvety chairs and had just enough time to take in the casual atmosphere before the before the crisp white wine arrived. This was followed shortly by a handsome parade of food, served by great staff, starting with a raw cod Crudo of the day and ending with a vanilla panna cotta that you simply must make room for. The courses in between comprised of a light-flamed salmon dish served with lemon, avocado and caviar, a delicious lemony pasta dish with fresh mussels from Westfjords, the famous and filling potato pizza, their much-praised ham and cheese platter and some Icelandic veal Milanese polenta. With its location right next to the national theatre, it’s a great place to stop before a show: you may even run into an Icelandic celebrity or two.

The restaurant also offers a lighter 5-course seafood menu (7,500 ISK), a variety of dishes from their a la carte menu, a fabulous 3-course vegan option (5,990 ISK) as well as vegan pizzas (2,550 ISK).

For opening hours, location and bookings visit the restaurant’s official web page

Essensia 15 © Roman Gerasymenko Essensia 16 © Roman Gerasymenko Essensia 17 © Roman Gerasymenko Essensia 18 © Roman Gerasymenko Essensia 19 © Roman Gerasymenko Essensia 20 © Roman Gerasymenko Essensia 21 © Roman Gerasymenko Essensia 23 © Roman Gerasymenko