Mellow Mushroom, in the Tinseltown shopping Center on Jacksonville’s south side, is a psychedelic wonder that overflows with twisty overhead pipes, murals of colorful mushrooms, oak flooring, deep burgundy booths and giant mushroom sculptures. Specialty pizzas are the order of the day here, with options like the Magical Mystery Tour and the Kosmic Karma, served with sun-dried tomatoes, feta and a pesto swirl. Customers can also build their own pizzas, or opt for salads, calzones and hoagies, while fungi favorites like mushroom soup and a stuffed Portobello stay true to theme. Mellow Mushroom even caters to the vegetarian and vegan with vegan cheese, tempeh and tofu pizzas and salads, plus a gluten-free option by request.
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.
When diners at Vinny's Italian Restaurant and NY Pizzeria bite into a slice of hot, cheesy pizza, they can rest assured that they are noshing on the genuine article. That's because the pies here are crafted by former Big Apple residents who know how to calibrate the crust, sauce, and toppings just so. And for those who prefer to sample the entrees of the old country, there are plenty of pasta, veal, and seafood dishes on the menu as well. Deli subs come cold or hot, and 12-inch stromboli get baked over the Statue of Liberty's torch.
If you haven’t yet embraced the concept of build-your-own take home pizza, it’s time to check out Papa Murphy’s Take ‘N’ Bake. The festive storefront sports yellow counters, red walls and a warm wood floor, while the menu reads like a typical pizza joint: cheese, veggie and Hawaiian pies are among the popular choices. You’ll also find stuffed pizzas and creative offerings like the Chicken Bacon Artichoke “deLITE” on their exclusive low-calorie thin crust, but the real craziness is in the concept. Papa Murphy’s will help you build your own pizza, using handmade dough, creamy mozzarella, sliced vegetables and butcher-quality meats, then send you on your way with the unfinished pie to be baked in your own home oven. A cross between pre-made frozen-aisle pizzas and waiting an hour for your local delivery place, Papa Murphy’s Take ‘N’ Bake is a fun, easy way to nab a pizza for the whole family on the drive home.
Perard’s Pizza and Italian Cuisine on Jacksonville’s west side is often considered one of the best pizza places in town. A small, down-to-earth space, the restaurant is well lit, with tile flooring and black laminate tables. There’s a tiny bar space as well, but most folks just order at the counter up front before hunkering down in the casual dining room, within view of the big screen TVs. Typical Italian offerings include garlic knots, antipasto and Stromboli, alongside reasonably priced manicotti, ravioli and calamari dishes. But at Perard’s, the pizza is the draw. There are two styles on offer: the hand-tossed New York-style thin crust or the medium thick crust pizza. The toppings themselves are nearly endless, including local favorite The Goat pizza, made with marinara sauce and goat cheese. And if you’re in the mood, beer and wines are available by the glass.
In the early 1900s, when firewood was a valuable commodity, a resourceful baker's head sprung a light bulb: why not try coal? Hence was born a different kind of pizza––one with a smoky, barbequed flavor and the pure heart of a coal miner's daughter. Pompeii Coal Fired Pizza takes this idea and gives it a modern pep talk, marrying oak wood and Pennsylvania-shipped anthracite coal to bake up new old-style pizzas in a stifling 850-degree brick oven.
Electricity takes a vacation as these furnaces evenly smoke thickly-sauced pastas, deli-style sandwiches, and house-made pizza dough. If Italy's anthem doesn't ring in your ears after eating golden focaccia bread and Italian-imported ingredients, you can grab a gondola oar and help the chef pound out a night's worth of juicy 8-ounce burgers.