Mellow Mushroom: Family-friendly and funky blend for tasty treat

Pizza place offers gluten-free options

A pizza restaurant tucked near the Tigerland community might be packed with a college crowd on any given day. But my companions and I were delighted Saturday afternoon to enter a mellow, family-friendly atmosphere filled with soft alternative music and designed with wacky pieces. A female mannequin covered in silver sequins, and wearing a boa and purple and gold socks, hung from the ceiling.

We chose seating in one of the wooden booths decorated with vintage records. Covered and spacious outdoor seating on a paint-splattered sidewalk is also available, and is where I anticipate enjoying my next visit.

The hummus ($5.99) with feta cheese ($1) and tomato ($1), and an order of five jerk wings ($4.89) were excellent dishes to start as “munchies.” The diced tomatoes and cheese were fresh and added variety to the hummus served with warm, toasted pita wedges, although the creamy hummus blend was delicious enough without the sides. The oven-roasted jerk wings did not pack our expected Jamaican jerk level of hot, but the sweet and spicy seasonings made up for it and tickled our taste buds. Other appetizer options include a magic mushroom soup, pretzels, muffuletta cheese bread and stuffed portobello mushroom.

For an entree we ordered the funky q. chicken pizza ($11.29) dressed with barbecue chicken, mozzarella and cheddar cheeses, caramelized onions and apple wood smoked bacon, but it seems we were served only a basic barbecue chicken pizza because the caramelized onions and apple wood bacon were not distinct enough. However, the void of toppings worked to our advantage because the pizza was extremely delightful and our best menu item, with a soft crust, sweet sauce and tender chicken chunks.

We also ordered the half-sized steak and cheese hoagie ($6.29) on white bread. Wheat and rye options are also available. The hoagie was stuffed with grilled steak, onions, mushrooms, green peppers, provolone cheese, mayo, lettuce and tomatoes. While the seasonings were slightly bland and I would have excluded the lettuce, the evenly toasted bread was crisp, increasing the overall taste significantly.

Our last selection was the mighty meaty calzone ($11.29) with jalapenos ($1.29) and filled with pepperoni, sausage, ground beef, ham, apple wood smoked bacon and mozzarella cheese. The taste was simple, clean and fresh and the marinara sauce kicked it up a notch.

Mellow Mushroom also offers gluten-free menu options with speciality crusts and ingredients for those with dietary restrictions.

While the food met our approval, the service could use a bit of upkeep. The large window next to our booth provided a beautiful view of the outdoor patio area. Near the end of our visit, one of my companions observed our waitress petting a dog. We all watched her enter the building, grab a plate in plain sight from the open kitchen and serve it to another customer. She followed with a beverage refill to our table.

Needless to say, we did not ask for a dessert menu and my refill remained untouched.