That's a big slice of pizza. Mellow Mushroom sells it for $2 until 2 p.m. Monday-Friday.

Friday nights in the Malcolm house meant ordering a large cheese pie from Tony’s Pizzeria, which was a 20-second walk from our front stoop. To honor pizza in all its glory, welcome to Pizza Friday! here at Gastronaut. We’ll celebrate a different Houston pizzeria each week, rating its basic cheese slice on the pizzaaaaa! scale (the more As the better).

This week: Mellow Mushroom (Heights)

Previously, I mentioned that my 22-month-old daughter can’t shut up about pizza. It’s all she talks about. Well, that’s not true—there’s also my sister-in-law’s dog, her red-haired cousin (we’re a ginger family), and the word “sit,” which she tells me while patting the couch. She’s bossy. But pizza is up there.

One of our more recent pizza trips was supposed to be to Mellow Mushroom, the stone-fired pizza chain that I suppose makes one think about Cheech and Chong. There were a few things I didn’t know about Mellow Mushroom before walking in with my daughter that Saturday evening:

  1. This is a big chain. Apparently there are dozens of Mellow Mushrooms across the country, denoted on this handy map by tiny mushrooms (Trump joke goes here). I didn’t know Mellow Mushroom was so omnipresent, and that there was even one in New Jersey. Then again, the New Jersey location is Toms River, which I know for three reasons: It once won the Little League World Series (thanks major leaguer Todd Frazier!), it’s Springsteen country, and some of its denizens have a white-hot hatred for “shoobies,” the folks living in Philly and New York who invade their area every summer. I’m a shooby. I don’t mix with Toms River folk.
  2. This place gets packed. It was hard finding a parking space, even though Mellow Mushroom in the Heights has a substantial lot. Once I secured a spot I walked in to see every table full. No worries ... take out it is!
  3. You need to call ahead. I asked the server about take-out. “You picking up?” she asked. I said no and wanted to put in an order, and her face softened. Tears formed. In the way a veterinarian would tell you the dog doesn’t have long, she said “It’ll be an hour a half.”

My eyes literally fell out of their sockets. “An hour and a half?!”

  1. Slices are “cheap” during the week. We didn’t stay at Mellow Mushroom. Instead I returned during the week (though at lunch) and waited a few minutes for two cheese slices. The restaurant sells $2 cheese slices from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Monday-Friday. In today’s pizza-conomy, that’s cheap.

Slice rating: pizzaa!

So we’re talking chain pizza here (look, I’m getting the big ones out of the way early). That said, this isn’t a bad slice of chain. Too much creamy mozzarella taste and not enough tomato sauce for my liking, though this is a big slice, and $2 for it on a weekday is really worth the price. The bottom crust is a bit soft, but the outer crust is one of the best I’ve had here: crispy, slightly charred, bubbly. Probably don’t need the extra sprinkling of cheese, either, but again, it feels like luxury for chain pizza. It’s good!

Want to recommend a pizza place to Timothy? Send him an email at tmalcolm@houstoniamag.com.

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