Here’s how I judge if a locally-owned pizza place is gonna be great or not: Something as simple as the garlic bread has to taste fantastic. Any accompanying marinara sauce has to have that ‘wow’ factor, and if they add cheese to it, then I’m one happy girl.
OK. so the pizza has to be great too, but folks I have to mention — Mellow Mushroom has got it going on!
The decor inside one of Warner Robins’ newest dining establishments makes you feel as if you’re outdoors. A long counter and open kitchen are immediately to your right.
Large windows are at one corner of the restaurant, which allows light to stream in as you enjoy a meal. Pub tables are set up on the far side, with booths in the middle and rear, and regular-sized dining tables near the front. Pick your spot and gaze at one of more than half a dozen flat-screen televisions placed along the walls. A bar area sits at one side as well.
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Bright sails hang overhead from a high ceiling, and the colorful orange and green paint everywhere showcases dozens of pictures. Kids will love it.
But let’s not forget about the food. It’s basically a pizza place on steroids. You’ve got starter munchies of hummus, pretzels, meatballs, stuffed portobellos, wings and of course garlic bread, with or without cheese. Go for the one with cheese. Reporter Natasha Smith, our local garlic bread and cheese expert, loves it. And the bruschetta we ordered for $6 is a tasty appetizer of toasted bread drizzled in balsamic vinegar, feta cheese, chilled, diced tomatoes and herbs.
Salads are plentiful, with prices ranging from $3.75 to $4.75. You can also build your own salad, with a base pick of Romaine lettuce, salad mix, spinach or spring mix starting at $3.25.
Now for the pizza. The small 10-inch size can definitely be shared by two people. At Mellow Mushroom, you can get almost any topping you want: artichoke hearts, sun dried or roma tomatoes, fresh garlic or basil, pesto, pineapple, olives, peppers, avocado, bacon, pesto tofu, steak, turkey, chicken ... and the list goes on.
The menu includes the house special. It’s topped with pepperoni, sausage, ground beef, onions, green peppers, mushrooms, black olives, tomatoes, ham, bacon and extra cheese. I love the incredibly tasty crust and the amount of food one gets for such a small pie. Other pizza choices include something called the Funky Q Chicken. This is a barbecue pizza my co-workers and I enjoyed one day at lunch. Jake Jacobs, our education writer and barbecue foodie, suggested that it was very light for a barbecue pizza and very tasty.
The calzones can only be described as a slightly crunchy yet chewy mass of doughy fun. My house calzone was stuffed with spinach, vine-ripened tomatoes, mushrooms and mozzarella cheese, and accompanied with rich, thick marinara sauce. A great value for less than $10.
Not in the mood for pizza? There are well more than a dozen options for deli or grilled hoagies, with prices ranging from $5.25 to $8.75.
At Mellow Mushroom, it’s definitely a feast for all the senses. If you haven’t been yet, you’re definitely missing out. More good news — another franchise is set to open in Macon.
Three and a half stars
Address: 710 Lake Joy Road, Warner Robins
Phone: (478) 287-6355
Hours: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and noon-9 p.m. Sunday
Price range: $3-$25.75
Vegetarian selections: Yes
Children’s menu: No, but includes ‘suggested’ items
Noise level: Moderate
Handicapped accessible: Yes
Latest health code rating: 95