It was one of the first Italian restaurants to open in the city and was a regular haunt for footballers, television stars and politicians.
It was ‘the’ place to be seen and guests even asked to be seated in the window so they were sure to be spotted.
And 40 years on, the legendary Flying Pizza restaurant in Roundhay is still flying the flag for Italy.
It marked its 40th anniversary with a party and lunch cooked by celebrity chef Aldo Zilli, and the unveiling of a revamp worth more than £200,000.
A new terrace with a retractable roof, allowing for instant al-fresco dining, was the spot for the party attended by former customers and staff members, including previous owner, Adriano Piazzaroli who came over from Italy especially for the event. He said: “I came to Leeds in 1959 and I came to Flying Pizza as general manager in 1975. I got a share in 1984 then bought it by myself.”
Adriano sold the restaurant in 2002 to Carlo Distefano who now runs the family business with his son Martello.
Adriano added: “I have been back a few times over the years as my son Ricardo still lives in Leeds.
“Carlo is doing a fantastic job but it is something special for me to come back here for the 40th anniversary and see old clients and friends.”
Martello said the family business now comprises 18 restaurants but Flying Pizza is the one that is closest to his heart.
He said: “I have been coming to Flying Pizza since I was 10 – we would come as customers every Sunday.
“Because we have grown up here it is quite personal to us.”