The Rockport Foodie: The Mellow Mushroom
One of the many adjustments of moving from Lakewood to Rocky River three years ago was entering a different delivery area for pizza. When I graduated from college, I made a vow never to eat cheap pizza again. Some 10 years later, that Hot & Now $5 pizza from Georgio’s was a savior when it seemed like my boys and their friends were having pizza eating contests on my nickel. And then there was the pizza hierarchy: the boys got Little Caesar deals or Georgio’s; when we splurged, Angelo’s or Donato’s; and non-pajama pants sit down, Dewey’s.
Rocky River offers a whole new world of pizza institutions with delivery service. The first time my son had friends over, one of the moms was so shocked we didn’t have Pelicano’s pizza for the boys that she offered to “chip in.” My younger son’s friend is 10 and the best sales person Danny Boys could ever have.
With such deep tradition and customer loyalty, it is always interesting when a trendy new pizza joint opens. The Mellow Mushroom opened recently to much fanfare from my social network friends who live in other areas. It offers salads, hoagies, specialized pizzas and calzones, gluten-free crusts, and a variety of healthy and vegetarian options.
My friend and I went for lunch to the new Mellow Mushroom on Detroit Road. Upon entering, I noticed the colorful walls and rock & roll décor. We were greeted by a young man who took us to a high top table for 10 people. I suggested that since there were only three tables occupied at the time, a 4 top would suffice. The bartender was our server and she was prompt and friendly. She had an excellent knowledge of the menu, made some recommendations and even asked if we had any time limits.
We ordered the Stuffed Portabella Mushroom and the Garlic Butter Pretzels with the Beer Cheese dip. Our server had forewarned us that it was only a single mushroom stuffed with artichoke hearts, feta, sun dried tomatoes, spinach, and mozzarella on a bed of greens and balsamic drizzle. The portion size was appropriate, but because it was so good, we yearned for more. The pretzels take longer to prepare as they are made to order from the same dough as the pizzas. They were worth the wait and the beer cheese is worth the extra charge.
Most of the specialty pizzas are equivalent to an Indy film. My son calls these “Pizza for people who don’t like pizza.” There is a wide variety to choose from. For the entrée, we tried the Thai Dye (olive oil and garlic base, curry chicken, swirl of Thai chili sauce, cucumbers, tomato and fresh basil), the Bayou Bleu (spicy bleu cheese base, grilled shrimp, and Andouille sausage), and the Mega-Veggie (red sauce base with lots of vegetables).
Overall, the best part of the pizza is the chewy yet crunchy crust. The texture is that of homemade whole grain bread. The biggest downside was that the toppings are in photogenic-size pieces. Since the toppings are not evenly distributed, you may get a large chunk of curry chicken in one bite and a cucumber in the next - not ideal for assessing the flavor balance that makes non-traditional pizza fun. I took to a little DIY by cutting up some pieces and spreading them out on the slices. The pizzas are filling, and all the ingredients taste fresh and premium. You will eat the entire crust; you won’t be able to stop yourself.
The seating and environment are good for a group of friends or a date night. Kids may struggle during the wait time. The food is “good” and expensive. Our lunch was $60 and a subsequent take-out of two pies was $45.
I went back for take-out because I wanted to try some other kinds of pizza, as my friends were disappointed that my family didn’t love, love, love the pizza. Mellow Mushroom is not really fully in the take-out space yet. You can’t order online or click on the phone number to dial.
In the right company, Mellow Mushroom is definitely worth a try. It has some true believers…you may become one!
Mellow Mushroom is located at 19333 Detroit Road in Rocky River. Hours of operation are Sunday - Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; and Friday - Sunday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. The phone number is 440-356-7171.
Colleen Wing has a degree in Hospitality Managent and Culinary Arts. She is the owner of and baker for Cake Following, a specialty cake and dessert business. Colleen and her family live in Rocky River.