21 February 2013
The Best Thing I Ever Ate
In the southern region of the United States, a restaurant called Mellow Mushroom thrives on its hippy attitude and “humble roots.” Customers never forget and always return to Mellow Mushroom after their first visit, wanting more of their creative, free-spirited “Classic Southern” Italian cuisine. In addition to Mellow’s cleverly crafted menu, the architecture of every restaurant is ingenious. Creativity is entwined within every aspect of the small franchise, but overall, Mellow Mushroom’s food is the main attraction.
The company began in 1974 as a single pizzeria in Atlanta, Georgia on Spring Street. Three college students opened the restaurant in hopes of combining their newfound eccentric philosophies, which bloomed from the hippie movement of the 1970s. They viewed pizza baking as an art that was to be shared with everyone. The young men allowed their creativity to take flight and produced a menu that drew in an overabundance of customers in the small Spring Street location. In the 1980s, the owners decided to open more locations around Atlanta, due to the growing demand for Mellow Mushroom pizza. The first Mellow Mushroom outside Atlanta opened in Athens, Georgia in 1989, and it succeeded incredibly, thanks to pizza-loving University of Georgia students. In 2000, the company grew and opened restaurants in numerous southern states, but majorly in college towns. In 2011, Mellow Mushroom reached the west coast, opening one location in Portland, Oregon. Over 120 locations are in existence nationwide, and the Mellow Mushroom still causes the same pizza-craving frenzy for customers as it did in 1974. Each Mellow Mushroom location coordinates the menu with the local culture and region. The Mellow Mushroom in Albany, Georgia has many southern-infused pizzas, calzones, and hoagies available to its admirers. My favorite choice on the menu is the buffalo chicken pizza, which is, in fact the most popular among customers in the Albany area. Having no relation to Mellow Mushroom, the Bellissimos are the originators of this now largely famous dish. The Italian couple owned The Anchor Bar in Buffalo, New York, and served various creative pizzas to their customers for over 30 years. The buffalo chicken pizza was added to their menu in 1964, and it became so popular that the recipe spread nationwide in a matter of a few years. Mellow Mushroom started incorporating the buffalo chicken pizza in their menus around 1982, and customers still love it.
The pizza is not marinara based, like normal Americanized pizza pies, but buffalo sauce-based, giving the pizza the signature kick that makes mouths water. The name “buffalo” screams spicy, but the flavor is more a tangy, pepper taste, rather than flaming hot. The pie is obviously influenced by the southern fad of eating buffalo chicken wings. This pizza is a chicken wing engulfed in sweet, soft dough, soothing the taste buds and satisfying your craving for Mellow Mushroom’s dough and chicken wings at the same time. The main ingredient in the buffalo chicken pizza is the chicken, of course. The chefs at…