In the heart of summer 2022, Black Isle Bar was selling just under 2,500 pizzas every week.
If you aren’t yet astonished by the figure, that is roughly 357 pizzas being made from scratch per day.
Located on Church Street, Black Isle Bar – opened by the award-winning Black Isle Brewery – has become one of the most favoured establishments in Inverness among food and drink fans.
Many people expected the craft beer bar to excel in its drinks selection, being that Black Isle Brewery is one of the top breweries in the Highlands.
However, it is also the food that leaves customers yearning for more.
Black Isle Bar opened in the summer of 2016 and is open from noon to midnight daily.
From the outset, customers have had the opportunity to order from an enticing list of woodfired pizzas. And people travel from far and wide to get a slice of the action.
“Before opening, it was always planned that pizza would be our main offering,” says Andy Simpson, of Black Isle Bar.
“We have a fairly small kitchen but a large dining area, including the beer garden, so we were always planning to try and keep it reasonably simple but offer something that was unlike other offerings in Inverness.”
The pizza list currently stands at 10 and they are priced between £11 and £13.50.
- Black pudding and goat cheese
- Hot smoked salmon and spinach
- Goat cheese, kale, and balsamic glaze
- Venison salami
Hebridean is the most popular flavour and is the only pizza that has remained on the menu since the bar’s opening.
Andy’s personal favourite is the ‘Nduja sausage, chilli, red onion, mascarpone, and honey pizza.
“I have always been a big fan of ‘Nduja, and the addition of a good quality honey is just fantastic,” he went on to say.
“We have a lot of customers who are sceptical about the honey, but we manage to convert the vast majority.”
How are they made?
Fans of the delicacies will be pleased to hear that the kitchen team, led by the current head chef Ryan Mackay, makes the pizzas with predominantly Scottish produce.
The base for their sauce is organic Italian passata which the bar, among other things, purchases from Highland Wholefoods in Inverness.
Andy, from Inshes, said: “We use Scottish mozzarella from Yester Farm Dairy near Edinburgh.
“Other key ingredients include lamb meatballs, which we make from our own flock of organically reared Hebridean lamb, Scottish pork salami from Great Glen Charcuterie near Perth, and local butchers haggis from Hastie and Dyce.”
Black Isle Bar also uses plant-based cheese from Inverness’ Left Coast Culture, as well as various vegetables and salad items grown on the company’s own organic farm.
Great ingredients, care, and skill
The idea to introduce pizzas as the core offering came from the inaugural head chef Tim Ashwell, who established the basics of how the bar creates pizzas and what makes them special.
This baton was then passed on to the second head chef, Claire Louise Sword, who still works part-time. Claire and Ryan are both responsible for most of the current creations.
Andy says it is “great to see how popular they have become”.
He added: “Their popularity is a combination of great ingredients, the care and skill of our chefs, and the fantastic woodfired oven that we have. It is made by Bushman Wood Fired Ovens.
“A very hot oven is key to making really good pizzas, and ours runs at 400C, cooking a pizza in about two minutes and creating a fantastic texture.”
A vast selection of Black Isle Brewery’s organic craft beer is also available to enjoy at Black Isle Bar, as well as many others from breweries across the country and further afield, plus organic wine, Scottish craft gin and malt whisky.
“The bar is relaxed, welcoming, reasonably priced, and really is the place to come in Inverness if you want great beer and great pizza.”