Mellow Mushroom has gone Cuban. And Asian. And thrown in a taste of Tex-Mex along with a lot of down-home Southern flavor. The new year ushers in some new dishes on the menu that go well beyond pepperoni pizza.
Mellow Mushroom has always marched to a different tune when it comes to pizzerias, having hoagies, burgers, wings and other non-pizza offerings on its menu. But now they've crossed the border with a Wild In Havana Pie, a pizza that was inspired by the restaurant's Home Grown Challenge, a contest in which Mellow Mushroom employees submitted their own creations for consideration. This mix of Cuban toppings — jerk pork, ham, salami, Swiss cheese, mozzarella and diced pickles with a mayo-mustard drizzle — won out.
If You Go
* Where: Mellow Mushroom, 205 Broad St. and 2318 Lifestyle Way
* Hours: 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday (Broad Street); 11 a.m.-10 p.m. seven days a week (Lifestyle Way).
* Alcohol: Full bar with new cocktails.
* Contact: 423-266-5564 (downtown); 423-468-3737 (Hamilton Place); mellowmushroom.com
The second specialty pizza, Backyard BBQ Pie, puts South in your mouth with shredded pork tossed in house-made barbecue sauce with sweet Peppadew peppers, chives and mild poblano peppers finished with garlic butter and parmesan.
If you like a sweet barbecue sauce, the Backyard BBQ Pie is an excellent choice. I happen to prefer the spicy, smoky kick of Wild In Havana. The heat of the meat was offset by tangy pickles. It's an interesting pairing on a pizza pie, but it works.
Of course, if you like tradition, you can create your own mix of toppings served on Mellow Mushroom's signature crust — not deep-dish, not thin, but, like Goldilocks, just right.
In keeping with the Cuban theme, the new menu also features a Havana Hoagie, more or less the same toppings as the pie, only served on a bun.
Now, head east. Far east. Teriyaki wings are the latest addition to Mellow Mushroom's wing lineup, and, continuing our flavor journey, the Atlanta-based pizza place puts its own take on guacamole, serving it with a side of bruschetta made smoky-sweet with balsamic glaze. The Avocado Smash combo is served with garlic toast points instead of tortilla chips and is an example of putting a new spin on a common idea. This was a welcome change and quite unexpected for a restaurant better known for its pizza.
Rounding out the new food items are two salads: a tremendous Cobb on overload with avocados, chunks of blue cheese and crisp bacon; and a tangy chicken salad of tender chicken with dried cherries, pecans and other marvelous crunchy things on a bed of spring greens.
Now let's head to the bar.
I have a new favorite cocktail — and so does Mellow Mushroom. Is it just me, or does the sound of turmeric in a drink make you go, "Huh?" Order the Golden Goose, one of three new cocktails on the menu, and you'll discover how well it pairs with ginger beer, lemon, pineapple and, of course, vodka. So well, in fact, I ordered a second.
Mellow Mushroom opened its downtown location 20 years ago. After two decades of wear and tear, it's undergoing an overhaul with reupholstered booths, a wall enlivened with a big, bold, fun colorful mural and other updates. The downtown location will remain open during its transformation.
Because of COVID-19 regulations, Mellow Mushroom offers, as do many restaurants, contactless ordering with a QR code on the tables to scan with your smartphone to see the menu without having to touch an actual menu. From there, a masked server will take your orders. Our food was delivered in record time. Was this because the restaurant was working at half capacity? Quite possibly, but even still, every available table was filled with hungry patrons on a Wednesday evening.
With pizzerias on most every corner in town, and as restaurants struggle to survive during these unprecedented times, Mellow Mushroom is doing what it can to stay afloat. Expanding its menu, offering diners new sips and savory items and putting a new face on the 20-year-old eatery put the restaurant in a prime position to do just that in delicious, fun fashion.
Email Anne Braly at firstname.lastname@example.org.