Tom manages to find pizza in Oxford despite a misstep and a sweaty start

The puffed-up pizza base sits between crisp and chewy, the tomato sauce is fresh while the mozzarella sits in molten puddles

The crust is crisp and chewy, while the tomato sauce and mozzarella are fresh.

Wilding looks like a great place to eat in the worst of north Oxford days. There’s a serious wine shop as you walk in and, further on, booths leading to a huge terrace at the back. We arrived, my daughter, and me, soaked, starved, and soaked down to the bone. You will find pizzas, trout tartare and burgers as well as steak, carpaccio and hamburgers.

But there’s a problem. Their chef is taking a much-needed rest because of the staff crisis affecting the entire hospitality industry. We wouldn’t mind waiting for him to return half an hour. We say yes, and we settle down in our booth, enjoying smoked almonds and fat-saturated olives. I pour myself a glass of Greek White. This place looks amazing. Thirty minutes later the chef is back. But alas, no pizza. They simply haven’t got the staff.

Problem is, Lola had been promised pizza. We move on with heavy hearts and huge apologies from everyone at the front of the house. They won’t allow me to pay for the drinks. I will be returning.

In the meantime, we venture out into the rain and make our way to The White Rabbit just off Gloucester Green. It’s little more than a pub, with loud music, and wobbly tables, but it’s warm and welcoming, and they serve good beer. Pizzas too. There are over 30 varieties to choose from, enough variety to make purists numb. We don’t have Neapolitan-style pizzaiolos, nor authentic wood-fired or brick-fired ovens. It’s all the better for that.

We order at a bar and listen to The Who’s wailing. We then eat fluffy doughballs with garlic butter and pickles and enjoy being out of the cold. Two historians discuss the finer points and the Second World War from next door while a group girls prepares for a Saturday night.

The Roman style pizzas are generous. They have a base that is between the crispy and chewy crusts and decently puffed-up crusts. The tomato sauce is fresh, and the mozzarella is smothered in molten puddles. My Diavola is stuffed with pepperoni and peppers, as well as a handful of intensely salty anchovies. Lola keeps it simple with a Margarita. She says it’s better than Pizza Express. Better than Pizza Express

The Oak in Shepherds Bush is also a great option. We love this place. Outside, the rain is relentless. I order another pint.

About £12 per head. The White Rabbit, 21 Friars Entry, Oxford;



DRINKS: Olly’s Sunday roast stunners

The Aldi Californian Zinfandel is a good choice for a beefy wine that you can pair with Sunday roasts. And while Italian reds and Spanish Rioja are good all-rounders, if you’re roasting pork, chicken or fish, pick rich whites such as Viognier or Chardonnay for maximum thrills. On the lighter side, Moulin à Vent from Beaujolais is a rare example which you can open now for its sleek fruit or age for a decade or more to reveal a richer, savoury stunner. 

WINE OF THE WEEK The best Marques de los Rios Crianza 2017 (13.5%), £6.50, Morrisons. Velvety with subtle spice, a textbook world-class Rioja for a bargain price.

WINE OF THE WEEK The best Marques de los Rios Crianza 2017 (13.5%), £6.50, Morrisons. This Rioja is a classic world-class Rioja, with a velvety texture and subtle spice.

Canyon Springs Californian Zinfandel 2017 (13.5%), £6.99, Aldi. Rich spicy red, with all the power of a rocket-fuelled blackberry. Divine!

Canyon Springs Californian Zinfandel 2017 (13.5%), £6.99, Aldi. A rich, spicy red with all the power and potential of a rocket-fueled blackberry. It is divine!

Louis Jadot Chateau des Jacques Moulin-À-Vent 2018 (13.5%), £16, Sainsbury’s. Silky as a cherry disguised as a blueberry. A magic carpet of a wine, seamless and splendid.

Louis Jadot Chateau des Jacques Moulin-À-Vent 2018 (13.5%), £16, Sainsbury’s. It is silky like a blueberry disguised as a cherry. A wine magic carpet, seamless and magnificent.

Lavaux, Villette Les Murets, Blaise Duboux 2019 (12.3%) £18, Amazing white with a cheeseboard or for a lively, pure apéritif.

Lavaux, Villette Les Murets, Blaise Duboux 2019 (12.3%) £18, Amazing white with a cheeseboard or for a lively, pure apéritif.

Torre Bisenzio Sangiovese 2015 (14%), £22, Savoury and splendid, this tastes like Brunello on a budget. Grab it for a treat.

Torre Bisenzio Sangiovese 2015 (14%), £22, This tastes just like Brunello, but on a smaller budget. This is a great treat.