When we visited Edgartown last June, Isola was #1 on Yelp. As of today, it’s number 5, but still sporting 4 Stars.

Having dined at the current #1 (Port Hunter) and #4 (The Newes), I can unequivocally say that Isola is a few clicks better than either; not just the food, but the entire experience.

I will admit that it’s a little tough to find. Although it’s on Church Street, the entrance is around the back…

We actually ended up walking into Raw 19 and asking directions!

A Restaurant and Pizzeria!

Before I get to the restaurant, I must mention that Isola also hosts an authentic Italian Pizzeria on site.

From This Week on Martha’s Vineyard:

The storefront offers freshly prepared foods to go such as salads, pizza slices, and coffee. One of the unique aspects of this section of Isola is the array of healthy alternative breakfast, lunch, and dinner options. With gluten free, vegan, and lighter fares, the storefront provides plenty of options for health conscious eaters or those with dietary restrictions.

Gabriella Sullo, daughter of owner Peter Sullo, is managing the storefront and is excited to share her love of cooking and nutrition with the Vineyard. “I grew up around really good food. My mom and dad are both amazing cooks. I really enjoyed cooking and took an interest in nutrition a few years ago, so combining my love for food and my love for nutrition was only natural,” she said.

I can personally vouch for the pizza because I ordered a splendid pepperoni one in the restaurant…

Great flavors and a thin crispy crust – similar to the Portuguese style pizza we have all over the Southeast Coast.

The Restaurant

Although the path to the front door is a bit of a puzzle, the interior is quite homey. I know that this was the cite of Lattanzi’s Ristorante and Lattanzi’s Pizzeria, and the seasonal Caffe di Lattanzi before it was Isola, but I suspect it was someone’s home before it became a commercial restaurant.

You enter through a bar area that is transformed into a conventional dining room unless there’s live entertainment,

We passed through here (only to return later for a couple of songs) and entered the intimate dining room…

Photo courtesy of yelp.com

The Food

This was the end of day two. We began the day with a bike ride to Chappy and lunch at The Seafood Shanty. We were hungry, but far from starving, so we negotiated the menu with an eye for flavor more than bulk!

Have you ever noticed that great restaurants don’t bring bread to the table until after you’ve ordered your appetizers? It’s because of people like me! I’m a huge fan of high quality homemade bread and if I sense a restaurant will serving me some, I’ll frequently skip the first course and enjoy a couple of pieces of great bread.

You’d expect great fresh baked bread at a pizzeria, but Isola takes it up a notch and serves it with a basil infused olive oil.

Rudy really focused on flavor beginning with a platter of freshly shucked oysters on the half shell…

And then for his second, he ordered the homemade meatballs…

I loved the traditional composition of fresh tomato sauce and hand shredded Parmesan Reggiano.

My focus on flavor did involve the bulk of the pizza mentioned above (most of which went back to Vigilant in a box), but my appetizer was Isola’s exquisite take on Oyster’s Rockefeller…

Mrs. Horne and her sister Gail had been good girls at lunch (salads), so they ordered unencumbered my our priority of flavor over bulk!

They began with a Isola’s take on a Caesar…

It starts with a grilled Romaine heart and along with their homemade dressing, it’s topped with Pickled Shallots, Golden Raisins, and of course plump Anchovies!

Having had enough salads for one day, they indulged in the fried raviolis.

And finished things off with homemade pasta!

Other than half of my pizza, none of these dishes made it back to the boat in doggie bags. Our flavor priority was achieved and we were pleasingly full!

The Isola Vibe

Normally, we’d be trekking home to Vigilant after a wonderful Monday night dinner out, but Isola would not let us leave!

The vibe began with our very engaging server Ben…

I generally will tell the server or Maitre’D that I’m taking pictures for a review at My Buzzards Bay. And generally when I do, we get great food and service (coincidence? I think not.)

Anyway, somewhere in the evening, Mrs. Horne mentioned it to our server Ben who wisely reacted by turning a great meal into an unforgettable night.

Suddenly, four Lemoncello’s arrived at our table…

No sooner had we taste this sweet nectar when the owner Peter Sullo arrived to join the conversation…

Peter is a lifelong resident of MV and restaurateur. Peter co-owned and operated Rocco’s in Tisbury before buying Lattanzi’s restaurant in Edgartown and creating Isola.

After about 15 minutes of great conversation, the topic of live music came up and Peter asked me and Rudy if we’d be interested in doing a few songs in the bar.

We had great fun and enjoyed watching a young girl and her family sing along. I’ve performed Wagon Wheel hundreds of times, but I’m still amazed by how many people know every line of the song.

I really like Isola and plan to return when I’m back overnight in June…