A DREAM has come true for Italian chef Massimo Pipitone who came to Wiltshire from Sicily in 2000 and always hoped he would one day have his own restaurant.

He and his wife Shanai have taken over the former Franco's Ristorante in Old Swan Yard, Devizes, after a number of months of uncertainty over the future of the business, and called it Massimo's.

But now the couple have signed a lease on the restaurant and are determined to make it a success. Mr Pipitone, 42, had no problem finding his way around the kitchen as he was head chef at Franco's for many years and helped create a number of the dishes that are now on the new menu.

Mrs Pipitone, 40, is also well known to diners in the town as she worked as a waitress in the former Isola Bella restaurant in Long Street, Devizes.

She said: "This is something that we have both always wanted to do. It has always been a dream. I really believe in Massimo as a chef and I am backing him al the way.

"I have a degree in hotel and tourism from my home country of Turkey and so have the background to be able to support Massimo and look after all of the front of house business.

"We hope that all of the people who really loved Franco's will come and see us and we will attract new business as well. We want it to be a place where people feel comfortable and can enjoy great food."

Mr Pipitone said all of his food is home made and was the sort of authentic Italian dishes he would eat at home. The couple have added a children's menu and a set lunch menu in the hope of attracting people in the middle of the day and early evening.

He is hoping that a Massimo burger will become a talking point and be popular with people of all ages. He said: "I love to cook and it is very exciting to now have our restaurant.

"We really hope people in Devizes will support us."

The couple first met when Mr Pipitone was working in an Italian restaurant in Warminster and Shanai went there as a customer. She said: "He got the owner of the restaurant who was a friend of his to pass on a message to me. They now have a five-year-old daughter Melissa and will celebrate their 15th wedding anniversary in April.

Former restaurant owner Anna Dabramo has retired and is returning to Italy.