Food is a universal language, but Wakefield restuarant owner Felice Di Giorno felt he needed to leave his sun-drenched home in the Calabria region in southern Italy to improve his English.
And the 44-year-old, who runs Felice’s Bella Roma, has never looked back.
“I would say I’m an adopted Yorkshireman now,” he says with his delectable Italian accent and a hint of wry smile, “another four years and I will have lived longer in England than I would have in Italy.”
Now living in Crofton, the married father -of-two followed two friends from his home village and arrived in Wakefield in 1998.
He worked as a restuarant waiter and worked his way up before deciding to take on the business - the established restaurant on Northgate - nearly seven years ago.
“I would say it was more scary taking over Bella Roma than it was deciding to come to England. It was a big step and a big challenge, especially the first few years.”
But the restaurant remains a firm favourite among the city’s diners.
They offer what you’d expect, plenty of pasta and pizza (among more speciality dishes), with meat sourced locally and ingredients delivered daily direct from Italy. With his Mediterranean upbringing, Felice is keen to use the flavours associated with his region including olives and chilli, but says he is always striving to improve.
He added: “Every time I go back to Italy, I try to come back with something new.
“I want it to be as authentic as possible and we would never evolve if we didn’t try something new or different.”