From pasta to peri-peri

Peri-peri chicken with four prawns and chips.

Peri-peri chicken with four prawns and chips.

Published May 12, 2024



Where: Shop 52, Lighthouse Road, uMhlanga

Call: 031 561 3577

Open: Monday to Saturday, noon to 9pm

Our little lunch club took advantage of a beautiful midweek public holiday to try a new spot called the Pasta Factory in uMhlanga. It would appear it’s part deli, part pasta shop, part eatery and part dark kitchen. It sounded intriguing.

There was one little snag, as we were soon to discover: despite walking up and down Chartwell Drive, we couldn’t find it. We went down side alleys and into shopping centres and the likes, no luck. (More later.)

Peri-peri chicken livers.
Pickled octopus with toasted baguette.

Ingrid was flummoxed. We double checked Google, and, yes, 16 Chartwell Drive was correct. Mmmh interesting.

I suggested lunch at Joita’s, which the Fat Frog Lady roundly seconded. She had never eaten here as strangely they’re not open on a Sunday. The Glass Guy was keen too. Ingrid phoned ahead and they had a table.

Never a great fan of Portuguese restaurants in South Africa, I’ve always enjoyed Joita’s because the food is good and authentic, the vibe is cheerful and it offers good value. Okay, so prices have ratcheted up a bit since my last visit, but they have been doing that everywhere. Here you can still get a starter for less than R100 and a main for under R200, unlike some.

Prawn rissoles.

It’s a casual eatery that’s had a bit of sprucing up since my last visit, but it’s still relaxed and very comfortable.

The menu is simple. Starters include a traditional calde verde (a kale and potato soup), flame grilled chourico, trinchado (Portuguese steak strips in a red wine sauce), and calamari tubes or heads. There’s mussels and clams when available. Mains feature chicken ‒ full, half or baby ‒ a Portuguese steak (topped with fried egg) and a traditional pork and bean casserole. And then there’s a seafood section complete with grilled linefish, hake, calamari, prawns etc. Plus there’s any number of combos. And each combo has the option to add a prawn should you so desire.

Six prawns with savoury rice in lemon butter.

We shared starters. The prawn rissoles (R89 plus R33 for additional prawn, as per menu) were delicious. Nice and crisp and with a good prawn filling. We enjoyed the pickled octopus (R89) which was suitably chewy and had good flavours, mopped up with slices of toast. The peri-peri chicken livers (R79) were pleasant, although I thought they were a shade over cooked. They improved with the addition of more chilli from a little bottle on the table.

Sardines with boiled potato and a side salad.

The ladies both went for a special of four prawns (R205 topped up with two prawns R90), Ingrid with savoury rice and lemon and herb butter, The Fat Frog Lady with chips and peri-peri. Both were more than satisfied. The Glass Guy saw sardines (R149) on the menu ‒ something he hadn’t had for years. These were served the traditional way with boiled potatoes and a small side salad. He really enjoyed them. I might have asked for some more lemon.

My combo of a quarter chicken and four prawns peri-peri (R259) was excellent, the chicken succulent and with that wonderful smoky flavour from being cooked on the coals. This really is the best spot for peri-peri chicken in Durban.

Service had been a little on the slow side, so we finished the wine in favour of the bill, and the possibility of finding something more interesting for dessert in the village. Nothing caught our fancy. It was as we were going to pay our parking ticket that we stumbled across the Pasta Factory. It’s where the old Woolworths used to be. It had been right behind us as we came up from the parking garage.

Here they had a gelato counter with a range of ice-creams that included the likes of watermelon. The Fat Frog Lady and I went for chocolate which, apart from being super rich and creamy, was fabulously deep and dark. Ingrid tried the blood orange. Magnificent.

We’ll be back soon.

Food: 3 ½

Service: 2 ½

Ambience: 3 ½

The Bill: R1 674 including wine

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