SOMERSET — After being open for a couple weeks, Piri Piri Kitchen is busier than co-owner Sandy Batista ever imagined.
That might be because she got people’s appetites worked up in advance through her Portuguese food blog, PiriPiriRecipes.com, or simply because she and co-owner Paul Andrade are filling a void in Somerset and surrounding communities.
Whatever the reason, Batista warns those who call for larger orders that they will be filled on “Portuguese time,” meaning add about an extra 15 minutes to a half-hour to the estimated time. “Because we’ve been so overwhelmed we say we do everything Portuguese time…. If it’s an hour, it’s an hour Portuguese time,” she said. “Everything is cooked from scratch, that’s what takes us so long.”
And apparently, her customers don’t mind waiting for the home-style Portuguese fare. “We’ve had an outpouring of people wanting to try us out and support us,” said Batista. “It’s been absolutely amazing. I think the consumer around here really needed something Portuguese.”
The concept at Piri Piri Kitchen, she said, was to provide Somerset, Swansea, Dighton and other parts of Bristol County with Portuguese food and with the pandemic, they decided to do takeout so customers could take it home to enjoy. “It’s good, old-fashioned Portuguese food,” she said.
Her parents are from mainland Portugal while Andrade’s are Azorean natives. Her mother, Helena is from Viseu and her father, Marinho, is from Penalva Do Castello. Andrade’s parents, Isaura and Antonio are natives of Rabo Do Peixe, Sao Miguel. “My mother and his mother are amazing cooks, so we have good guidance,” she said.
Though similar, she said the cuisine from the mainland to the Azores varies slightly with the Azores using slightly more cinnamon. “On the continent we like a drier chourico and the Azores uses a bit more wine so it’s a little wet and they definitely like the hots in the Azores a little bit more,” she said. “At the end of the day, we’re just so proud to be Portuguese-American that the line gets blurred. It doesn’t really matter.”
Since opening, she said everyone wants Mozambique-style dinners, whether it’s shrimp or chicken. The Portuguese steak plate is also gaining a loyal following along with Batista’s signature rice, which has customers asking for larger portions, she said. One of her favorite dishes to make is stewed rabbit, the recipe for which she said she will never disclose. In addition to rabbit as a special, she also offers octopus every Friday. On the specials board that day, was chicken or shrimp flatbread pizza, octopus salad and the classic salted codfish and egg dish bacalhau à brás.
“We’re trying to provide customers with the standards that you would find in nice restaurants in Fall River, East Providence, New Bedford. But they can take it to the comfort of their own home to enjoy with their family,” she said.
Some other customer-favorites include the Portuguese burger, served on a bolo with chourico, spicy sauce and french fries and her deep dish bacalhau salted codfish pizza, which is also a featured recipe on her blog. “I can’t keep up with the demand. It’s delicious,” she said.
For those looking to feed the entire family, she offers a family-style platter that comes with flame-grilled chicken, Piri Piri Kitchen sauce, rice, fries, homemade Portuguese soup and a loaf of bread. They also offer a variety of party platters.
On PiriPiriRecipes.com, she blogs about whatever is going on from Portuguese food to singing fado with Abel Lima and Jose Silva and singing with BandFaith, a Portuguese band. Her partner, Andrade, a drummer, plays with [email protected], which she described as a musical project with various collaborators.
Though she started the blog a few years ago, being home during the pandemic led Batista to really start posting content to the page and to interact with people through the blog. Now busy with the takeout restaurant that started through the blog, Batista said being too busy is a good problem to have these days. “I am not complaining,” she added.
Both natives of Rhode Island, she said they’ve lived in Somerset for the past three years. “We love Somerset…. We want to provide good Portuguese food and we want to be a staple in the community.”
Piri Piri Kitchen, located at 970 County St. (in the shopping plaza next door to Dunkin) is open from 11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays; 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Fridays; 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays and closed Tuesdays. For additional information, call 508-617-9168 or visit the Piri Piri Kitchen Facebook page.