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As if the red hot spiciness of Sri Lankan food was not enough for us islanders, Diego’s Peri Peri recently opened doors to a world of new flavours centered on the African Bird’s Eye Chilli or Piri Piri. A sauce perfected by the Portuguese who inhabited the African continent centuries ago, has today become a global phenom and must-have ingredient in a traditional preparation.
Situated in the bustling urban suburb of Nawala, the restaurant is not hard to find with its large and colourful signage but parking during rush hours could be a little cumbersome. Later on in the nights and during the weekends though there is ample space to park or even dine by the roadside or sit indoors if you prefer. The restaurant itself was designed with minimalism in mind with a lot of recycled material used as furniture and décor which we liked. Although space is limited to a maximum of 16 or 20 squeezed in it’s a fun place to hang out with friends and family. We also noticed a lot of delivery orders going out so clearly the food also gets to your doorstep pretty good.
Diego’s specializes in the version of the Peri Peri Sauce that they have created which is used in many of their signature dishes including the ¼, ½ or full grilled chickens, chicken wings, grilled jumbo prawns and even pulled beef burgers. A Peri Peri Spice Meter was also developed so that customers can “pick their poison” when it comes to the level of heat they desire with their meats. The menu is designed in a simple manner where customers pick their preferred meat, carb, side and sauce and pay what you see on the menu without any hidden taxes. A carefully selected drinks and dessert menu that keeps with the theme sums up a menu that is simple but comprehensive and delicious every step of the way.
Off the drinks menu we ordered a Strawberry Splash and Citrus Blast that came served in Mason Jars. With the heat we were expecting from the food both drinks were very welcome but we certainly preferred the strawberry with its tangy-sweetness.
Wanting to be adventurous with the heat levels and different types of meat we ordered a Peri-Peri 1/2 Chicken, Grilled Per-Peri Wings, Grilled Peri-Peri Prawns and a Pulled Beef Burger. We requested for the sauces to be brought out separately so that we could distinguish the hotness levels and the staff were more than obliging to do so. The portions of carbs whether it be fragrant Portuguese Rice, Mashed Potatoes or Salad are quite generous and we found each portion easily shareable. The fact that you pay for what you eat is also great because this place comes across as quite affordable.
Being typically Sri Lankan and exposed to so much spice, we found the sauces a little underwhelming in terms of heat but it does have distinctly different flavours which adds to the quality of your meat. We clearly have a different threshold for chilli so don’t gauge the heat on this review alone is our advice. Armed with our sauces we embarked to try the wings first and found them to be nice and crispy on the outside and tender on the inside just the way we like it. The ½ chicken also followed suit. Unlike store bought “roast chickens” these were not roasted to the bone but instead had tons of flavour which we attribute to the specially designed oven that Diego’s uses as well.
The Prawns and Rice were also a nice filling meal but it was the Pulled Beef Burger that really blew our mind. The larger than usual burger was packed with LOTS of slow-cooked pulled beef lathered in the signature Peri Peri sauce. The filling had an almost melt-in-your-mouth consistency and be prepared for things to get super messy. If not for the chicken then we would go back just for the burger!
To finish off a rather large meal we ordered a portion of Diego’s version of CBP (Chocolate Biscuit Pudding) and again were not disappointed. The dessert seemed freshly made and wasn’t overly frozen and the cream had the right consistency and taste that took our fancy. Diego’s is certainly a place that we see ourselves frequenting and we recommend for those in the vicinity to definitely try out.
So here’s our rating…
Location **** (Limited parking and seating!)
Ambiance **** (Comfy, cozy and has a lush air to it!)
Service **** (Quick and courteous!)
Food **** (Lots of innovation that we love!)
Price Range: 500 – 1,000 per head
Opening Times: 11:00am – 1:00am daily
Address: No. 403 Nawala Road, Nawala.
Contact Number: 0760 918200
Reviewed by Nishu Gunawardana
Photo Credit: Sanura Gunawardana