Posted April 6, 2015
By MAGGIE URBAN-WAALA
Walking down the always-bustling Sunset Drive in South Miami, the usual pedestrians can be spotted; younger, upper-class couples and businessmen on their lunch break. A trippy looking banner flaps in the wind, however, drawing your attention to a door that is guarded by a friendly, casually dressed individual with a nose ring and dreadlocks, welcoming you into the recently opened Mellow Mushroom.
Upon entering, you are immediately aware that this is not your typical Miami dining establishment. The hosts are dressed down in tie dye t-shirts and blue jeans, and the music playing on the speakers ranges anywhere from Stevie Nicks to Red Hot Chili Peppers. The very young, very enthusiastic hosts ask first if you would like to order take-out or sit down for your meal.
There are booths located on the right side of the restaurant, which looks to be the area designated for big parties and family units, while the left-side is where the bar and high top tables are located.
Although the wait time for a hand-made pizza is only 15 minutes, we opt to sit down at a high top, weaving through a maze of tables and lost-looking waiters. We are seated by the host and then greeted by two servers, one of whom is in training. They ramble off a few quick facts about the pizza and its uniqueness in being completely gluten-free and made to order.
There is a full bar at The Mellow Mushroom, equipped with 48 domestic and imported beers on tap, including many craft beers which are very popular currently, and a full shelf of liquors. While there are not currently any food or drink specials, as the establishment was opened just this past Monday, the waiters explained that they will be starting happy hour specials within the coming weeks.
The menu is designed in a very cool fashion, with all sorts of different fonts and colors. The categories to choose from are Munchies, Salads, Build-Your-Own Salads, Hoagies, Specialty Pies, Build-Your-Own Pizza, and Calzones.
On the back of the menu, there are fun facts about some of their ingredients, including the gluten-free crust for which they are well known. The crust is said to be made in a special, dedicated gluten-free facility with is prepared in a special gluten-free designated station. The mozzarella cheese is described as patiently aged, never frozen, and absolutely does not contain the addition of any additives or preservatives, just the milk, non-animal enzymes and salt that cheese should have.
In case that was not environmentally friendly enough, they explain that their brown pizza boxes are the greenest pizza boxes in the country, having a negative carbon footprint and is made from 100 perfect recycled material, as are the rest of the restaurant’s paper products, along with eco-friendly soy ink.
My dining partner and I decide to split a 14-inch specialty pie that comes with six slices, which you can design with two separate specialty pies, as long as they have the same base ingredient, which is a crust basted with garlic butter and sprinkled with Parmesan cheese.
On one side we ordered the Holy Shiitake Pie, which has Shiitake, button and Portobello mushrooms, caramelized onions, mozzarella and MontAmoré cheeses, drizzled with garlic aioli and black truffle oil and garnished with fresh chives and shaved Parmesan.
On the other half, we asked for the Red Skin Potato Pie, which was topped with sliced roasted red potatoes, Applewood smoked bacon, caramelized onions, cheddar, and mozzarella cheeses and garnished with chives then drizzled with sour cream and spice ranch dressing.
While waiting for the pie, you are finally able to get a real grasp on how cool the design of the restaurant is. In the far back of the building is an indoor mushroom garden, with giant plastic mushrooms sprouting out of the ground and emphasized by a back wall that has a collage of mushrooms painted on it. The ceiling is modeled in different heights around the restaurant, with some areas having exposed black piping, giving it an edgier feel than a typical ceiling.
There are groovy murals along the walls in some areas, maintaining the common theme throughout, until you look at the bar, which has more of the Miami feel that one that lives here might be used to. A marble, granite, counter with curved edges, giving it the shape of a wave almost, was paired with lime-green bar seats, keeping it unique but familiar.
The drink menu was on the pricier end, so we settled with a couple of beers that also came out to around $10. On a table near ours, there was a lucky crew of customers who had gotten the table that has a six-beer tap in the middle of it.
Also located in the back of the restaurant near the mushroom garden is the kitchen, which is completely open with all of the pizza makers facing the rest of the restaurant and flipping pies right in front of the customers. We were assured that all of their ingredients are fresh and “none of that frozen crap.”
The wait time for our food was no more than 20 minutes, which seemed fair since the entire pie was made of freshly made and cut ingredients, and the restaurant was busy with a medium-sized lunch crowd.
Of the two, my personal favorite was the Holy Shiitake Pie, having fewer ingredients, therefore allowing me to truly taste and enjoy each individually, while the Red Skin Potato was very well-made, but was too rich in flavor to be able to differentiate the ingredients from each other.
Asking for sides of ranch or blue cheese dressing adds an extra 50 cents per side you order. This brings the price of the pizza up to $20.24, which is including having leftovers for dinner since there is little likelihood of two individuals being able to finish the hefty six slices in one sitting.
Our bill came out to $25.90, not including the tip, which is on the average end of pizza prices, although a small 10-inch pizza would have sufficed for two individuals.
While leaving the establishment, several waiters and hosts wished us off, beckoning us to come back again soon with large, genuine grins on their faces. A friendlier staff could not be found, although hiring a staff made up entirely of young, inexperienced waiters and hosts could be one, if not the only, deterring factor found at The Mellow Mushroom.
- The Mellow Mushroom
- 5701 Sunset Dr., Miami, Fla 33142
- 305-667-3274 for reservations / orders
- Sundays-Tuesdays 11 a.m.-12 a.m., Wednesdays-Saturdays 11 a.m.-2 a.m.
- Hand tossed, stone baked classic southern pizza made with high quality, fresh ingredients.
- Price ($)
- No dress code
- Rating 4.5 out of 5