Eat’n Out! Black Bottom Pie might not be chocolate

Published 12:56 pm Wednesday, May 31, 2023

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Column written by Robert Duke

I have been eating Pizza all my life. It was so long ago I had my first slice I can’t even remember it. But I would bet a sizable sum that it was at “Mr. G’s” when it was located over by the river landing. That was one of my folk’s favorite places to go back in those days.

It would be a dreadful site to see, in one big pile, all the pizza and associated foods I have eaten in my 63 years. I mean, who doesn’t love a good Stromboli or Calzone? It just looks like a pizza folded in half or rolled up to me. I could be very wrong, and I am sure that there are tons of folks who would be appalled by that statement. I bet we could agree though that they are all delicious.

After all those years of eating pizza and associated foods I have learned something. Someone, somewhere along that timeline stopped using good tomato sauce to make a pizza and started using tomato paste or something else out of a can. When that happened I completely lost my taste for pizza. It was many years later when an innovative pizza maker started offering pizza, stromboli, calzone, and others without tomato sauce.

I remember I was in a chain restaurant called “Mellow Mushroom” in Marietta, Georgia when I had my first taste of one of those pizzas. I couldn’t believe my tastebuds. They were screaming for more.

Since that time I have had several slices here and there of regular pizza with tomato sauce and all I can taste is the nasty tomato sauce. It doesn’t taste good to me, and it overpowers everything else on the pizza.

I bought pizza one time for my employees at a work event, and I ordered both with and without. I asked them all to taste the with first and then compare the taste to the slice without tomato sauce. They couldn’t believe that they could taste the bread, sausage, cheese, onion, and more on the slice without but not on the one with the sauce.

One was even mad at me because she said I had “ruined pizza” for her. For that I sincerely apologized.

I am not really sure if what changed was the quality of tomato sauce, a change in my tastes, or the fact that I like the other bases more. But, I am a huge fan of pizza again with a wide variety of bases other than tomato sauce. At home we make pizza regularly on the grill. We usually start with pizza dough from Walmart in a can that looks like a biscuit can or from Publix that is mixed and risen in the store and kept in a fridge in the Deli in a plastic bag. Then, we generally use an Olive oil, or Olive oil and Pesto mix or maybe some kind of garlic alfredo sauce and various others to our dough before adding the cheeses, meats, and vegetables of the day.

Most pizza places now offer several other bases than just the old tomato sauce of yesteryear.

Our most recent pizza was at the “Mellow Mushroom” franchise in Tuscaloosa. We ordered a “Holy Shiitake Pie”. This is an olive oil and garlic base with roasted shiitake, button and portobello mushrooms, caramelized onions, mozzarella, and creamy Wisconsin aged white cheddar cheese. Finished with fresh chives, shaved Parmesan, a garlic aioli swirl and a spritz of black truffle oil.

This pie is great by itself but we also added pepperoni and Italian sausage to ours. I so enjoyed this pie. I will share with you though that over recent years I have had a love/hate thing with Mello Mushroom. I took the whole family to the original location in Tuscaloosa a few years back as they had never been to one. Of the 5 or so pies we ordered; several were burned black on the bottom. They apologized and offered to make more but we were stuck for time and said no. I believe this happens when they don’t clean the pans after cooking the previous pizzas which is kinda nasty if you think about it.

I got over it and wanted some more pizza and whipped into the Mello Mushroom in Foley, Alabama. My wife, grandson, and I got another burned bottom pizza. It took me several years to try them again and I am happy to say that I have been 3 or 4 times in a row without a black bottom pie. When I think of a black bottom pie, I want one of those chocolate ones that are supposed to be black chocolate on the bottom. Not burned dough. But I guess that’s a whole different thing.

After all that, I still highly recommend the “Mello Mushroom” when Eat’n Out!