Well, come on. Surely we can all have a good laugh together at the mural on the wall at the Mellow Mushroom, the one that says "The Soul of Germantown."
Hey, no one's knocking Germantown here, and definitely not taking a shot at the Mellow Mushroom. It's just funny. Soul and Germantown. Hmmm ... I wonder if Stax is thinking about moving to the 'burbs ...
It might be the first thing you notice when you walk into the new and extremely popular pizza parlor, but you'll leave with a smile on your face for a different reason. The food will make you happy.
It's all about the pizza. The sandwiches are fine. The Mushroom Club, with caramelized onions and grilled mushrooms plentifully piled atop the standard club
ingredients -- ham, turkey and bacon -- was my favorite. But if you are a bacon lover, you might want to give the BLT a try. It bursts from the hoagie -- my bacon-freak dining companion even took some of it off her sandwich, something I've never seen before.
If you're a fan of white pizza, and I am, then you're going to love the Gourmet White. Oozy provolone, mozzarella and feta cheese and the sliced onions are the star of the pie, which is also garlicky and includes sun-dried and sliced tomatoes. (Let's give a hand to MM for not backing down from the onions in general -- they're even on the BLT.)
The onions are mostly in the center of the pizza, so the first taste is a sharp, earthy bite, tempered by the creamy cheeses. Working to the edge, the sweetness of the sun-dried tomatoes comes into play. And the crust is excellent, from the outer puffed rim to the firm yet thin center.
Before we go to the next-best pizza, about that crust: Yes, it's very good crust, but it ain't pretzel dough. Feel free to order the appetizer pretzels, but be warned that you are getting pizza dough shaped as pretzels. They're tasty, in the exact way that bread sticks are, but they're not pretzels. As my friend who also remembers the pretzel store in the Raleigh Springs Mall said, "They're good, but they're no Hot Sam's."
Moving on, the Kosmic Karma might be the prettiest pizza you've ever seen, with its bright green swirl of pesto from rim to center, begging you to drag a toothpick through it and make a spider's web design. While I doubt pesto is made fresh on premises -- the cost would be crazy -- I wouldn't call anyone a liar who told me otherwise. It's fresh and bright, tasting as much of summer as a cool glass of lemonade. The Karma also has sun-dried tomatoes, spinach and feta cheese, which means that so far, my favorite pizzas at Mellow Mushroom are meatless.
Four of 10 pizzas come without meat, in fact, and the endless combinations of toppings ensure that any vegetarian could eat here many times without duplicating a meal.
The House Special pizza, the first pizza from the first Mellow Mushroom in Athens, Ga., ca. 1974, is a meaty delight, laden with pepperoni, sausage and ground beef and topped with onions, green peppers, mushrooms, black olives, tomatoes, extra cheese and -- yes, there's more -- ham and bacon.
If I try it again, no bacon for me. I've had bacon on a pizza once before, and while I thought I'd give it another try, my opinion remains the same: I don't like the smokiness with the other ingredients.
While you can't order a cup of coffee, you can sure get your fill of beer. There are about 40 on tap and if that's not enough for you, well, you're either in trouble or in luck -- take your pick -- as higher-alcohol big beers are available by the bottle.
As for the coffee, who wants it with pizza, anyway? Besides, if you ask for it, they'll go get you a cup.
The servers are young and friendly, enthusiastically telling you their favorites if you ask. The vibe is not the hippie feel you get at some Mushrooms, but it is friendly, comfortable and welcoming.
The soul of Germantown.
--Jennifer Biggs: 529-5223
Address: 9155 Highway 72, Germantown (The Shops of Forest Hill)
Telephone: (901) 907-0243
Hours: Sunday through Thursday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m.
Reviewer's choices: Gourmet White pizza ($11.50, $18.50 and $23.50); Kosmic Karma pizza ($12.50, $19.50 and $24.50); Mushroom Club sandwich ($5.50 half, $8.50 whole)
Alcohol: Full bar
Poor: Zero stars
Good: One star
Very Good: Two stars
Excellent: Three stars
Extraordinary: Four stars