Paul Friedman is originally from South Africa, where he opened and ran 47 steakhouses before moving here in 1978 to run a successful travel and safari business. Then he opened and sold three Paul's Pizza Shops and, three and a half years ago, retired. But Friedman couldn't stay away — he just opened his dream restaurant, a South African place.
"We called it Peli-Peli (110 Vintage Park, 281-257-9500) because the name Peri was already trademarked. However, the pepper known as peri-peri in South Africa is also known as peli-peli in Mozambique. It is a bird's-eye chile pepper that was discovered by the Portuguese in the 15th century. We use it infused with guava, mango and papaya, to reduce the spice level a little bit."
Peli-Peli is a beautifully decorated restaurant, with a 30-foot representation of an acacia tree as its centerpiece. "I built my restaurant around an acacia tree," says Friedman. "Not a real one, but an abstract version of this very old tree that grows on the plains in Africa."
Friedman is not compromising his menu — he's offering traditional South African dishes like the kebab-like sosaties with mango chutney; biltong, a sort of beef jerky, which he's curing himself with peri-peri seasoning; and a delicious peli-peli chicken, marinated with guava.
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