Some combinations just seem to make sense, but even so, somebody was the first to try them. Imagine the first person to put mustard on ham, for example. They must have felt pretty pleased with themselves. Or the smart alec who worked out that cheese goes with wine. Really? Who would have tried that? Was that just some happy accident with milk and grapes that got left out for too long? And what about llamas and pizzas? They go together like Ant and Dec, or Donald Trump and Twitter-rage, don’t they? Has Wellow begun a trend that will sweep the culinary globe? Or is West Wight Alpacas picking things within eye-shot to see if they go together? Well, as far as we are concerned there’s only one way to find out: off we went to Wellow to see how things were at the Llama Tree Bistro and Pizzeria.
If you’ve ever been to an animal-centred small tourist attraction then you’ll know exactly what to expect at West Wight Alpacas. A compact car park with family-sized vehicles Tetrised into the available space. A pleasingly rustic jumble of sheds and fences, beyond which a few perky alpacas could be seen prancing enticingly in their paddock. And of course, the café. No such destination would be complete without the opportunity to enjoy a lunch or afternoon tea – and, of course, have a look at the alpaca-themed gifts.
We squeezed into the busy cafe and found a couple of seats kindly offered up by other diners when Cat explained that we’d come all the way from Ryde. The clean, new venue was predominantly full of families, and the efficient staff bustled about bringing food, drink and courteous service. From the social media buzz that the café had created, we were expecting pretty much nothing but pizza on the menu, but there were other things to eat besides the signature dish. We found a decent choice of quiches, including asparagus and Stilton, goats cheese and chilli, plus salads and filled paninis. There was also an under 12s menu for ‘crias’, which we discovered is a baby camelid – sometimes known as the rather cuter-sounding alpaclettes.
We ordered our food and drinks at the counter and were politely told there’d be a bit of a wait. Fair enough, that’s what you get for turning up on a Saturday lunchtime, and it’s always good to be given the caveat. As it turned out the delay wasn’t too long. To fill the time, the staff brought over our drinks, then shortly after laid the table with our cutlery and napkins in little brown branded bags
Carnivoro pizza £9.95
Lemon sole and asparagus fishcakes £8.50
Churro pizza fingers £5.95
Cat’s lemon sole and asparagus fishcakes arrived on a quite substantial dressed salad. The two fish cakes had been cut into halves and arranged nicely on the salad nest and around a ramekin of tartare sauce. Crunchy on the outside, inside the piping hot cakes clearly had some signs of asparagus, and a hint of fish. The salad had a pleasing variety of greenery and some sweet cherry tomatoes, though it had been rather over-generously dressed for Cat’s tastes.
Matt was determined to enjoy the full llama-pizza experience. The superbly-dubbed ‘Carnivoro’ pizza claimed to be “fully loaded with chorizo, salami and pepperoni”. This might have been better described as “lightly sprinkled” but was none the worse for it. The pizza was a good one, with a light, bubbly base that avoided being biscuity or doughy. The toppings included wilted basil and the sublime, unmistakable Isle of Wight oak-smoked tomatoes.
We noticed a dessert going by to another table that piqued our interest. Churro pizza fingers are exactly as brilliant as you’d think – strips of pizza dough fried like churros and copiously coated with cinnamon sugar, with a pot of Nutella for dipping. We fell on this like wolves – it was great.
The bill was not modest – you’d pay the same for dinner in a pub. But clearly this place is outrageously popular. As we paid up and left, a huge contingent of vintage car drivers was piling in. Were they there to see alpacas? We had our doubts, and we were not wrong. We were happy to leave them as they queued five-deep to enjoy some decent pizza, and maybe those ridiculously moreish churros.
This is the full-length version of the review that first appeared in the Isle of Wight County Press.
- Fantastic churros
- Great family venue
- Outside seating
- Can be busy, so might be a wait for a seat and food