Enthralled with the art of pizza-making, a trio of college students opened the first Mellow Mushroom 40 years ago in a former liquor establishment. Popularity bred new locations, doling out stone-baked pizzas sprinkled with unusual ingredients such as broccoli, pineapple, pesto chicken, caramelized onions, provolone cheese, and banana peppers. Chefs express their subconscious hoarding problems by stuffing a host of ingredients inside of calzones and hoagies, whose hearty compositions may be offset by crisp salads. Mellow Mushroom remains open late for night owls and offers catering services to help keep company meetings stress-free.
Monkey Jungle Fun Time infuses felicity into amusement seekers and fills empty tummies with bites from an expansive pizza and salad buffet. Within a clean, family-friendly fun factory, an amiable staff provides a lighthearted experience for children of all ages with almost 50 arcade games and mini bowling, great for honing your throw or pretending to be an earth-attacking giant. Workout at the adrenaline- pumping motorized rock climbing wall or gather a group of friends, siblings, or sentient raisons for a sonorous sing-along on the karaoke stage. Junior adventurers can run, jump, and hunt for happiness in the multi-level, soft-play climbing unit, while little ones under four years of age can escape longer limbs in the Pirates Cove, a separate play room. After an afternoon of convivial action, refuel with pizza, salad, and ice cream, or by eating a handful of batteries.
Though the chefs at Urban Flats spend every day baking gourmet flatbreads in their stone hearth, the task rarely bores them. They keep life interesting by crowning the whole-wheat bases with locally sourced and seasonally rotating ingredients such as curried chicken, breaded eggplant, and diced red peppers. Thankfully, the culinary variation isn’t limited to the flatbreads. Urban Flats also offers a full slate of wines that range from fragrant whites to spicy reds.
The chefs at Mixx craft an internationally inspired menu of modern classics such as house-made pastas, sushi, and wood-fired pizzas. Start off with the calamari fritti tossed with sundried tomato vinaigrette, basil, and lemon-caper remoulade ($9) before surprising your palate with the stuffed cannelloni fiorentina bursting with ground chicken, veal, besciamella cream, three cheeses, and spring-loaded rubber snakes ($10). House-cured salmon snuggles into a sushi roll with mascarpone cheese and a spicy lemon-caper tartar sauce ($10); the Alexa wood-fired pizza hoists a hefty serving of pesto and goat cheese, bacon, rosemary roasted apples, and caramelized onions ($13).
Though Brucci's Pizza owner Bruce Jackson was born in Syracuse, New York, his grandparents hail from Italy, and he grew up feasting on Italian recipes that had been passed down through generations. At his restaurant, the chefs follow the same timeworn recipes as his grandparents when dishing up Italian favorites with a New York–style flair. They whip up lasagna layered with meatballs and italian sausage, grill paninis, and hand-toss housemade dough for pizzas, strombolis, and calzones. Their specialty pies include the Brooklyn—topped with diced tomatoes and fresh basil—and the Syracuse Stuffer—laden with sausage, beef, pepperoni, and ham, as well as green peppers, onions, and mushrooms.
But Brucci's Pizza is more than just an eatery—it's also a gathering place. In addition to weekly specials, the three locations host regular events. The Ponte Vedra and Fruit Cove locations host a Monday kids' night, and the West Beaches location facilitates live music twice a week, played by bands that are not made up of animatronic rodents. The chefs also issue a standing challenge: if any guest can devour a double-thick, 16-inch Fuhgeddaboudit pizza—smothered in seven toppings and gobs of extra cheese—within an hour, it's on the house.
Tommy’s Brick Oven Pizza, on Jacksonville’s south side, is a quintessential local spot. With its butcher block counter, black bar stools and exhibition brick oven, patrons can even watch the chef make their pie, which might be the Veggie Heaven (tomatoes, arugula, mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, shredded carrots, onion, bell pepper, olive oil) one night or The Brumos (pepperoni, sausage, meatballs, bacon, ham) the next. Tommy’s Brick Oven Pizza also has a wide variety of salads, appetizers, calzones and hot sandwiches, and offers pizza by the slice for fast-casual lunchers on the go. Plain flooring and black tables lend to a casual pizzeria vibe, while staff is equally laid back.