POPULAR pizzeria Fatto a Mano is opening a second neighbourhood restaurant more than double the size of the original.

The traditional Neapolitan pizza place opened in London Road, Brighton, last summer and has already built up a fiercely loyal customer base.

The second branch will open on 65-67 Church Road, on the site of former Italian restaurant Topolino Duo

Run for nearly 30 years by Angelo and Linda Cavallo before they retired in 2014, Topolino was a popular haunt for celebrities and footballers, with its covered terrace ideal for people-watching.

A bar-restaurant called Neighbourhood briefly operated at the same prominent site but closed just under a year ago, and the site has been empty ever since.

Fatto a Mano, which translates as handmade, serves pizzas cooked in large clay wood-fired ovens, with a focus on friendly-friendly, welcoming service.

As well as proving popular with customers, it received critical acclaim for its authentic food, earning a coveted five star review from Argus food critic The Gourmand.

Owner Rupert Davidson also owns Break & Milk coffee shop on Trafalgar Street and was previously head of development at cafe chain Benugo.

He was inspired to create Fatto a Mano having taken many trips to Naples and soaked up the inimitable atmosphere of the neighbourhood restaurants on the city's outskirts which specialise in traditional pizza.

Fatto a Mano was also a reaction to what Rupert saw as the overpriced but mediocre food of PizzaExpress.

The aim is to create the same neighbourhood buzz achieved on London Road - and at Topolino.

He said: “Hove has one of the city’s closest-knit communities.

“The building itself is amazing, there’s so much heritage; it was home to a well-loved Italian family restaurant for almost 30 years.

"We couldn’t let the opportunity to take this site pass us by as we may not have found such a perfect spot for a long time.

He added: “We’re a local start up, and are building a culture we’ll always be proud of.

“We won’t compromise on the quality of our product. A lot of thought, love and effort will keep going into making the Fatto a Mano experience great for our customers. Hove will have the same simple menu, with great prices, and using the best ingredients.”

Rupert said if Hove goes well, there could be more restaurants to follow.

He added: "I'm not trying to create a chain of restaurants. But if I don't expand, all the great people I employ will not have space to grow."

Fatto a Mano Hove will open in mid August.