Sometimes, the best eating is done at restaurants that have caught you by chance. What I mean by that is you can check out the website, look at the photos of their amazing dishes on their social media outlets and even call for hours – – and, still, the restaurant you had planned on going to might decide to do minor renovations and be closed on the very day you were supposed to meet a party of eight there. Taking a hard right from Mexican to Italian, we quickly chose pizzas as the obvious substitution for Plan B when we encountered this particular dilemma.
Hmm, so many great pizza haunts in Sarasota, where would we go? We needed something to satisfy vegan interests as well as the carnivorous tastes in our group, and budgetary concerns were also present. It had to be a recognizable establishment, something easy to get to since we were all coming in from different directions. And, it had to be a place we could get in and out of in a timely fashion to accommodate a surprise party that evening. What I thought might be a ho-hum, bland but acceptable pizza eating experience was anything but. At Mellow Mushroom, they are not just full of shiitakes. Their menu will leaving you considering pizza in an entirely funky light.
Before we get to the star of the show, Sir Pizza, let’s talk about the interior of Mellow Mushroom. Have you ever visited or driven by one of those yard fixture places with the giant, man-sized vases and wonder what kind of businesses sport these? Well, I do, and, last weekend I found out they all end up at Mellow Mushroom. These stately and brightly colored giants with lush greens and flowers bursting out from here and there alongside near floor-to-ceiling windows made the side room that we sat in seem like a solarium. It was quite pleasant for an establishment that is located right on Tamiami Trail. But, I digress. Let’s move on to pizza 101.
If you are going to order an “everything” pizza, the crust had better be able to withstand the weight. There is nothing worse than all of your toppings taking a slide onto the plate, or worse, your lap. When you can comfortably hold your pizza in the typical position, I’ll call this position “Type A” as homage to those of us who are, you are dealing with a well-made crust. “Type A” positioning in the pizza world consists of a thumb and pointer finger grasp around the crust area of your pizza with the rest of your fingers tucked neatly below for added support. Done right and you can take a hearty bite off the end of your pizza without the slightest drooping of the rest of your pizza ship.
This was the case with the Mellow Mushroom House Special that we dined on. A crisp, cracker-like crust held a mound of pepperoni, ham, ground beef, sausage, bacon, mushrooms, tomatoes, green peppers and well, you know, probably a couple of other toppings. It was delish! Not a single morsel fell off of my perfect piece, it was rather impressive and seemed to defy physics and gravity. The other pizza styles we sampled were the Cheese Pizza, with the mellow red sauce that is mighty tasty, and Pepperoni and Mushroom with ample proportions of both. Rounding out the delectable fare were some tasty Pretzel Bites with just the right amount of butter and parmesan cheese coating them and the House Salad which was surprisingly packed with fresh veggies and topped with shaved parmesan. Plus, it was so large that it was definitely shareable. Plenty of sodas and a couple of beers washed everything down and a surprisingly low bill was cheerfully delivered by our servers. I think any time you can feed a large party for under $100 you are doing pretty well, especially in Sarasota. I am not sure if it is typical to send two servers for a party of eight but we never went without drinks and our food was served piping hot.
All-in-all I would say Mellow Mushroom went from Plan B to Plan A for us, and I would recommend it to anyone wanting a break from the traditional pizza joint.
Mellow Mushroom Sarasota FB
6727 S Tamiami Trail
Call (941) 388-7504
Photos from Mellow Mushroom Sarasota FB