A lot of traditional Americans don’t know this, but the holiday you know as Thanksgiving originated around pizza. It’s true. To celebrate this Thanksgiving, I was summoned to Lexington, Kentucky to ward off those Turkey spirits. I don’t actually know what a holiday is about if it doesn’t have anything to do with pizza. Now, I don’t remove myself from Pennsylvania very often, so being able to sample what another state calls Pizza is an anthropological experience I would encourage you all to take.
I polled some residents of Lexington about what pizza place I needed to eat at while I was visiting. The response was a resounding “Mellow Mushroom.” A few people also contacted my pizza pal, Christa, to see if I was addicted to pizza. Duh, of course. As lucky would have it, my cousin actually works at Mellow Mushroom! Hey look, there he is in action!\
On Black Friday my family rose to the occasion and took me to Mellow Mushroom where I was promised psychedelic pizza with the toppings that no roof, no matter the height, could contain. Not even a psychedelic roof. As we’ve seen in the past, I’m not super big on toppings. I usually like a pizza to impress me on its own merit before relying on the likes of feta, broccoli, olives, or even jalapeños. Mellow Mushroom was built on a foundation of crazy toppings so I gave in. When in Rome, right?
I petitioned my family to order two pizzas: The Mega Veggie and the Magical Mystery Tour. Lots of M’s in those items which I think stand for the mmmmm’s that followed.
Seen above is the Mega Veggie. Despite piling on (deep breath) black olives, tomatoes, artichokes, tofu, sun dried tomatoes, green peppers, mushrooms, onions, feta, and banana peppers, the crust was incredibly crispy. It was able to support this tremendous garden of vegetables which is something I’d thought I’d be reading about in Ripley’s Believe It or Not. The vegetables were fresh enough and there were no flavor conflicts. Whatever they do to ensure only the greatest of vegetables grace this crust, they’re doing a great job. Perhaps they employ their very own vegetable inspector?
The Magical Mystery Tour seemed like less of a mystery and barely a tour. I wasn’t exactly sampling the hundreds of vegetables I was during my stay with the Mega Veggie, but I’m just being picky. Name aside, the Magical Mystery Tour fulfilled the hole in my heart that could only be filled by the green combination of pesto and jalapeños. I’m not sure I’m a huge fan of the mushrooms, they seem to just shrivel up on top and end up thwarting the flavor train I’m trying to deliver into my mouth. Aside from the mushroom, there could have been a bit less feta to let the base cheese and pesto shine like a thousand suns.
But did I somehow manage to enjoy two gourmet pizzas nonetheless? Yes. A million times yes. Enough good things cannot be said about the crust and I believe it’s the real hero in this situation. Without a buttery and solid crust to hold these toppings, I’d have to employ a fork to scoop up the shrapnel. Using a fork to eat pizza is like using a stylus on an iPad.
I also really enjoyed the atmosphere of the Mellow Mushroom. It’s a chain, which is the opposite of what you’d expect walking in. The walls are painted, there’s an old-timey hippie feel to everything, the kitchen is wide open, and the staff couldn’t be friendlier. The only problem is that they’re based in Atlanta and don’t show any signs of creeping up north to Pittsburgh.
The end of the day, it was a family affair and here’s (from left to right) my pizza cousin Clare, pizza brother Joe, Mellow Mushroom employee (and cousin) Tristan, and Pizza Journalist Dan (me).
If you ever get a chance to stop by a Mellow Mushroom, do it! They’re eclectic and delicious. Plus their beer selection is just as vast as the toppings on their pizza.