A LONG-awaited restaurant has opened in Leigh after the owner was hit by delays during the Covid pandemic.

Italian restaurant GustoSi, in Leigh Road, initially put up signs and launched a website almost five years ago but has now finally celebrated its grand opening.

Owner Rocco Dileone, 42, previously owned the Flying Pasta, in Westcliff, which first opened back in 1997.

He put the restaurant on the market after market after almost 25 years in February 2021 as he set his sights on opening a new business venture in the area.

After opening last week, Mr Dileone has said the feedback has already been positive and customers have been flocking to try the restaurant.

Mr Dileone said: “It is a family-run Italian restaurant.

“I used to own the Flying Pasta before I sold that. GustoSi has been an ongoing project, and we are now finally open.

“It has been a long time coming as Covid hit, and that had an impact on us opening.

“But it is now exciting to be up and running. It is all Italian and everything it made in house, and authentic.

“It has been good so far and the feedback has been positive.

“We are surprised as it has been really busy.

“I hope we can become a long-standing business and be here as long as possible.”

Mr Dileone added that he is “looking forward to a new challenge” at the restaurant.

When Flying Pasta was put up for sale, the Echo was told that one of the main reasons for the sale was the high number of similar Italian restaurants in the Westcliff area.

The new restaurant GustoSi will be open seven days a week.

From Monday to Thursday, the business is open between 12pm until 9:30pm, on Friday and Saturday, it is 12pm to 10pm. On Sunday it is open from 12pm to 8:30pm.

The former Flying Pasta site has now been replaced by Prowse, which has proved a success offering a Mediterranean mix with chefs from Greece, Turkey, and Italy.