A new Italian restaurant is bringing authentic flavours of southern Italy to Romford.

The Italyans will be taking over the site of the now-shut McDowell’s Pie shop in Romford Shopping Hall in the coming weeks.

Owner Francesco Macheda, 32, told the Recorder that it has always been his "dream" to set up a restaurant of his own after working at other restaurants as a chef and manager for many years.

He said the eatery will be run by him, his father and sister and will offer traditional items like fresh pizza, arancini and even pastries and croissants in different flavours like hazelnut and pistachio cream.

He claimed: “We are going to use high quality and fresh products and would like the people of Romford to see what authentic Italian food from down south tastes like.”

Having lived in Romford in the past, Francesco said he was looking for a place with an open set up so customers could see cooks make the pizzas while they eat.

He was passing by Romford Shopping Hall when he chanced upon the site and decided to use it as the home for his dream project.

He said: “Cooking has always been my passion, and we are all very excited to do this together as a family. It is a means for us to do something great that we will always remember."

Francesco added that he is investing all his life savings in the restaurant and while it is scary, he is confident in his work.

He came to London for the first time in 2014 as a tourist when he did not know English. He later started working as a chef in different venues that he said helped him learn the language and understand the culture.

A few months down the line, he was even entrusted with the job of managing a restaurant. So he believes his years of experience in the field would give them a solid head start.

He said: “One of my main concerns in Romford area was knowing the community. I have only lived here for about three years in the past.

“It is challenging to run your own restaurant, but I know myself and what I am doing. We just want people to know we are here, and they come come in and enjoy our high quality food.”

McDowell’s Pie & Mash closed in July when owner Linda McDowell retired.

The Italyans is expected to open in Romford Shopping Hall in the next three to four weeks.