Denmark’s capital isn’t all rye bread, smoked fish and New Nordic hotshots. In fact, as the city’s food scene has evolved over the past decade or so, it is one of the world’s most adored cuisines that is making a very welcome comeback—namely, Italian.
Italians are, of course, fairly well known for taking their cuisine all over the world and many of Copenhagen’s more traditional trattorie, osterie and ristoranti are run by Italian expats, but Danish chefs are beginning to try their hand at Italian cuisine too. So far, it seems they’re doing a pretty good job of it.
Meet, for example, Nina Krysiza Sørensen and Rikke Kolding Pedersen—two Danish chefs who opened Cicchetti in 2015. They told me about an Italian couple who dined there recently and only dared to order a couple of items from the menu, not fully trusting that Danish women could make Italian food taste good. “But afterwards, they expressed their regret at not having ordered more!” Nina said. As it turns out, a Dane can make an excellent fried zucchini flower, too.
Then, I remember a couple of years ago, when it seemed like Italian restaurants were springing up all over Copenhagen and the revolution was well and truly underway. I was talking to Peter Trillingsgaard, a Dane and co-owner of Fætter Fætter, a toast bar just around the corner from Cicchetti. He told me that he and his co-founder Mik Frikke-Grundahl were planning on opening a second place where they would serve antipasti and pasta. I teased him about jumping on the bandwagon and he replied, “Well, we couldn’t not open one, and be the only guys in the city without an Italian restaurant.” The place ended up being called Bar Pasta and it’s brilliant. And although Peter was half joking about why they opened it, his sentiment neatly sums up the trend of Italian restaurants opening in Copenhagen in recent years.
However, quantity doesn’t necessarily imply lack of quality. In fact, the amount of Italian restaurants opening recently only seems to have raised the bar, and each must develop its own niche in order to stand out. While some remain resolutely Italian Italian, others are opting to merge Italian cuisine with Nordic style and culture, in the most symbiotic of fusions.
If you want to combine your visit to Copenhagen with one to Italy (culinarily, at least) here are my top recommendations for where to eat and drink in the city, a l’italiano!
Let some of Copenhagen's experts on gastronomy, culture and urban development explain just what it is that makes their beloved city unique in its own great-tasting, creative and beautiful way.