You can’t visit Islay or write about this island without mentioning the peat.
In days gone by it was the reason the water here ran a strange colour of brown. And for much longer it has given Islay’s many world-famous whiskies their distinctive aroma and taste, but peat is also behind the name of one of the best restaurants in Islay.
Peatzeria (see what they’ve done there?) sits in the heart of Bowmore, the capital of Islay and faces out onto the waters of Loch Indaal.
It’s a stunning spot, quite frankly. As we walk along Shore Street towards the restaurant, we see a family wading out into the water for an evening swim together. The temperature will be someway short of Caribbean but it still provokes a sense of envy in me. Maybe it was the bravery or normality of it that I admired, or just the simplicity of having a sea loch at the bottom of your garden.
That said, very little was going to distract me from the pizza. The word of mouth around Peatzeria is tremendous. We’ve had to book in advance and while that might not sound that odd, it’s worth remembering we’re on an island with a little over 3,000 people. This place is already being talked about as one of the best restaurants in Islay, a claim borne out by the sight of one group after another being turned away as we eat.
Why is this place in such demand? The setting is part of it, of course, but mainly it’s because the food is inventive, creative and consistently excellent. This a pizza restaurant but not as you know it. The menu is influenced by the incredible seafood which is caught in the waters all around this island and while I would not immediately jump at the chance of a scallop or lobster pizza, if I was in a city, there was a sense of when in Rome …
If you’re not feeling that adventurous there are many of the old Italian classics that you would expect to find in any pizza restaurant. The food is so fresh, the prices affordable and the sourdough bases mean these pizzas are always going to be light and crispy. And the staff are so friendly and open that we learn as much about island life in 90 minutes here, as we do in three days elsewhere on Islay!
The menu at Peatzeria is fresh and inventive
The building in which Peatzeria is housed is both historic and majestic. It was once a Episcopalian church, dating back to 1903 and the vaulted ceiling and sense of space make this a fantastic venue. It can seat 36 inside but when the sun is shining the terrace is the place to be on this magical island. We were staying at The Machrie and it was a shade over a 10 minute drive. We started with the salt and chilli squid, as recommended by our server and it was a fresh and zesty as you would wish it to be.
As I said, I went for the Islay Scallop Pizza but we also tried the American Pepperoni. The signature seafood Pizza platter was tempting with scallops, mussel, Islay crab, half a lobster tail all served with truffle mayonnaise fries. That comes in at £45.
It was all washed down with a pint of Islay’s very own Islay Ales, Big Strand Craft Lager – which is brewed on the island. Peatzeria lived up to the hype, it certainly is one of the best restaurants in Islay and here to play a round or two of golf at The Machrie and fancy a change for the night, you won’t be disappointed. Just make sure you book ahead!
Peatzeria, 22 Shore St, Bowmore, Isle of Islay PA43 7LB, Call on 01496 810810 or email firstname.lastname@example.org