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Leonardo's Restaurant

Most of you already know the institution that is Leonardo's, sitting beneath its beautifully carved and painted wooden sign opposite Coral Beach Cottages on Diani Beach Road. Especially captured in my memories, is the beautiful wooden Range Rover that used to be parked outside, elegant and polished, enticing you to take a closer look - and then, of course, step into the restaurant alongside with its wonderful aromas wafting through. What you may not know, is the history behind the place. Opened in 2007 by Mario, the name Leonardo's was inspired by the father of the previous owner of the plot. When he took it over, all that stood there was a massive rock in an empty square, which was transformed into the beautiful restaurant we see there today. A capacious, wooden, high ceilinged, rustic haven with its exclusive wooden banquettes that can be reserved for lunch or dinner.

Mario started off his career as a diving instructor and boat builder. His arrival in Diani in 1982 had a purpose. He wanted to start a dive centre - now known famously as Diving the Crab. Not content with his first venture into entrepreneurship being a rounding success, Mario went on to start a diving village on Chale Island, as well as opening the Nomad restaurant. Finally, in 2007, Leonardo's was opened on the strip, with its proper Italian style pizza oven, a playground for children and his famous, all natural, homemade gelato.

Mario started off his career as a diving instructor and boat builder. His arrival in Diani in 1982 had a purpose. He wanted to start a dive centre - now known famously as Diving the Crab. Not content with his first venture into entrepreneurship being a rounding success, Mario went on to start a diving village on Chale Island, as well as opening the Nomad restaurant. Finally, in 2007, Leonardo's was opened on the strip, with its proper Italian style pizza oven, a playground for children and his famous, all natural, homemade gelato.

The Italian style pizza oven is truly reflected in the scrumptious pizzas that Leonardo's churns out each day. Their crudo pizza is the stuff of legends, with almost translucent thin strips of parma ham placed generously all over the pizza lending a deliciously salty flavour to the cheesy base. The base itself is supremely thin and crispy, both adding texture to each bite whilst not taking away from the flavour of the toppings.


Today, Leonardo's is run by Mario's son, Roberto, on who's recommendation we ordered both the beef carpaccio and the spinach and ricotta ravioli (made fresh each day). Fresh, tender and gorgeously thin slices of beef sitting atop a crunchy bed of lettuce comprise the beef carpaccio, which is rich and salty yet light at the same time. Perfectly dressed with their secret dressing, the succulent beef flavour came through without being overpoweringly meaty.