Last Rugby World Cup, my husband and I were living in London in a snug one-bedder with no cable TV. Hence, we spent quite a few nights making ourselves cosy in front of the enormous flat-screen at Vito’s, a tiny Italian bar at the end of Northcote Road in Clapham.
In 2007, it wasn’t much more than a few tables, a bar plastered with posters of Italian football heroes and that huge TV which, when not playing sport, would provide hours of entertainment in the form of retro MTV. It was a little nook with awful tiles on the floor but loads of character and seriously good pizza!
I can’t remember much after some of those WC matches, particularly the night the Wallabies lost in the quarters to the English, but I do remember the pizzas! Simple, piping-hot and glommed at the bar with a tall glass of Peroni. There was no way I would be a rugby widow when these were on offer!
My web research tells me that Vito’s and its adjoining ristorante have since been razzed up with dark wood, leather seats and mood lighting. Shame to lose all that tacky charm, but at least the pizzas seem to have stayed.
Back in Sydney, in our slightly larger, still cableless apartment, it was only fitting that we recreated Vito’s in our living room to cheer on the Wallabies in their first WC 2011 match against Italy. We made mushroom pizzas with fresh oregano and basil (recipe below) and served them with tall glasses of Peroni. Simple, not too large and very delicious!
A toast to the Wallabies who won the match and a special cheers to Nina and Jon who owe us a bottle of Veuve if the All Blacks go down to the frogs for a third time!
World Cup Mushroom Pizza for cheats
2 x your favourite pre-made pizza bases
½ cup Arrabbiata pasta sauce (or tomato passata simmered with garlic and chilli)
1 cup grated quality mozzarella
1 ½ cups of sliced Swiss Brown mushrooms
Handful of fresh basil leaves torn
Handful of fresh oregano leaves picked
Quality olive oil
Optional, pitted olives
Preheat oven to 220C.
Place pizza bases on oven trays and slather with pasta sauce, leaving a 1cm rim around the edges.
Sprinkle half the mozzarella over both pizzas.
Top with mushroom slices and scatter over the mixed herbs (and olives if using).
Finish with a liberal grind of black pepper, the remaining mozzarella and a drizzle of olive oil.
Bake for 10-15 minutes until golden brown and bubbling.
Serve as a snack for hungry, football-mad husbands (and yourself of course!) or more sensibly for dinner with a crisp green salad. Enjoy!