A popular Italian restaurant is getting ready to launch its first pizzeria outside of London.

Zia Lucia was reported to have taken on a 15-year contract at the former Ask Italian in Mary’s Butts in December 2023 with little known about when it would launch.

Now the chain has revealed that it is hoping to open in early Spring, meaning the restaurant could be up and running within the next two months.

Recently Zia Lucia has set its sights on a national rollout of new stores, with 10 planned across the country in the next three years.

The specialist pizza restaurant has won the UK National Pizza Award and has been voted 38th best artisanal pizza brand in the world.

Having been launched in 2016, founders Claudio Vescovo and Gianluca D’Angelo are at the forefront of the UK’s pizza renaissance, boasting four types of pizza dough, a selection of toppings and an Italian community flair.

The new site will have a seated capacity of 50, including outdoor seats with a "cosy and warm" feeling and a sixties twist.

At the restaurant's centre will be a huge hand-crafted pizza over, surrounded by timber flooring, big windows, a sixties-inspired colour code and a jolly wallpaper.

On the news of the Reading launch Claudio said: “We were thrilled when we found this site, and cannot wait to bring our black pizza to Reading. 

"We believe this town will match perfectly with our community-style dining and moderately priced, delicious traditional food.

"What we love about our restaurants is the vibe and the atmosphere created by all our visitors: friends, family, business gatherings…Zia is for all."

To celebrate the exciting new opening, Zia Lucia will bring a new type of pizza dough, developed especially for Reading.

Gianluca adds: “Genuine pizza, homemade appetisers and desserts, paired with our own craft beer and Italian style cocktails and coffees, served in a friendly and relaxed environment is what we are all about. 

"We are constantly overwhelmed by the passion our customers show towards our four pizza doughs: watch out for a new pizza dough, which has been developed for the new opening”

Zia Lucia translates as 'Auntie Lucia' and the restaurant is inspired and named after Gianluca’s very own aunt. A fantastic cook and generous host, Lucia is the inspiration behind the brand.

The Menu will feature fresh, classic Italian toppings and will be available on all four types of dough.

Toppings range from irresistible Italian favourites such as fiery nduja, spicy spianata salami, truffle honey, burrata, rich gorgonzola cheese, vegetables roasted in their pizza oven. The menu will also feature monthly specials.