On Thursday, March 3, we collected enough recyclable bottles and cans over the previous month to pay for a pizza. So, we decided to go to Mountain Mike’s Pizza, where we hadn’t been for a long while. Mountain Mike’s is a pizza chain in several Western states that started in Palo Alto in 1978. Today, they have over 200 locations including a restaurant in Martell.

I went on the Mountain Mike’s website and ordered a large Mt. Veggiemore pizza. Since I joined the Mountain Mike’s coupon club recently, I was able to get $5.00 off the $28.00 price of the pizza. The website also allowed me to pay in the store and to set a time for pickup. The latter was important because I needed to stop at M&R Recycling and run some other errands in Martell before picking up the pizza.

I arrived at Mountain Mike’s, which is in between Save Mart and Big 5 Sporting Goods, a few minutes before my scheduled pickup time of 2:00 p.m. When I entered, there was no one inside except for one worker who was watching one of the overhead TVs and had his back turned to me.

I walked to the counter and waited for about three minutes before one of the other workers in the kitchen saw me and asked if he could help. (I lost my voice years ago, so talking above the volume of the TV and through a mask wouldn’t work for me.) The person watching the TV turned around and saw me, and he appeared to be the franchise owner.

He laughed and told me that he didn’t hear me. I nodded and once he stepped behind the counter, I told him I was there to pick up my pizza. He took my cash and gave me change, went back for about 30 seconds, and returned to tell me that my pizza would be ready in a couple of minutes.

Since there wasn’t anyone else in the restaurant except for the workers behind the counter, I looked around what to me was a standard pizza restaurant dining room: booths, a few tables, a tile floor, and overhead TVs bolted to the walls. In other words, a restaurant made for families. Once I received my pizza, I thanked the franchise owner, exited the restaurant, and drove home.

Mountain Mike's Mt. Veggiemore Pizza

Our Pizza

The Mt. Veggiemore pizza comes with mushrooms, black olives, green peppers, artichoke hearts, and sliced tomatoes on top of mozzarella cheese and Mountain Mike’s “classic red sauce.” The 14-inch pizza was in a large cardboard pizza box with a nice touch: a rectangular sticker on the top and side that kept the box from opening inadvertently.

Upon opening the box, we saw a pizza with 12 slices, large slices and chunks of vegetables, and the standard plastic center holder to keep the top of the box from crushing the pizza. The pizza smelled good, and once we took our first bites, my mother remarked that the pizza was good.

I agreed that the toppings on top of the pizza were fresh but about as flavorful as you’d find in a pizza chain with over 200 restaurants. Two things gave me pause: the crust and the sauce. When I took my first bite, I immediately noticed the shell was a bit harder and the dough a bit denser than many other pizzas I’ve eaten. When I looked underneath the pizza, I found the shell looked like a cracker with holes in the crust. That’s something I’ve never encountered before.

The sauce was also interesting, but it took me a few bites to tell my mother I thought the red sauce had a smoky taste to it. She agreed, and we both agreed that though the smoky taste was interesting, the sauce didn’t taste burned and didn’t distract from our experience. It’s just a hallmark of a Mountain Mike’s Pizza, and the only aftertaste I had was from the large slices of artichoke hearts.

Mountain Mike's Mt. Veggiemore Pizza Crust

The Verdict

Our Mountain Mike’s pizza had plenty of vegetables and cheese that added a good base. The taste of the sauce may not agree with you, but there isn’t so much of it that it distracts from the taste of the vegetables. The crust is also thicker with a harder (but not too hard) shell and denser crust, and this remains true with leftover pizza hot or cold. (I prefer my leftover pizza cold to my mother’s astonishment.)

So, we have a flashing green light based on our agreement that Mountain Mike’s makes good pizza, but the sauce and crust may give you pause.

We paid a little more than $24 for our pizza.

Want to Try Them?

Mountain Mike’s serves pizzas, sandwiches, salads, and more. They’re open from 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. daily, and you can order Mountain Mike’s for takeout and delivery from their website. If you prefer to order by phone and/or have questions, call them at 209-223-0200.

Amador Business Ticker food reviews are adventures in local dining with Editor Eric Butow and his mom.