Fast forward to June of 2007. My cousin Mick was getting married. He and his fiancee lived in the Hartford, Connecticut area and were planning to hold their wedding there. My parents and I decided to make a family vacation out of the trip. I told them about Mystic and Martha's Vineyard. I had never been to Mystic but I had been to MV the previous year and fell completely in love it it. I wanted to show it to them. I also thought it would be cool to do something else besides Wildwood.
My parents were down for a new adventure. Great! We all piled into the mini van and headed towards New England. Along the way, I told them we had to eat at the famous Mystic Pizza. We HAD too! Why? Because it was supposed to be the best pizza ever. And, it was in a movie I loved as a teenager. We all deserved to try a little slice of heaven right? My parents assured me we could eat there. I made them promise. They promised. I made them pinky swear. Just kidding, I didn't make them pinky swear. My dad was driving and my mom was holding the map. Didn't want to cause a distraction with the elders.
Besides, I have no problem being a nagging pain in the ass when I really want or need something. If I had to go to the mattresses to make sure we ate there, well then I would wrap a dead fish in newspaper and deliver the Sicilian message to my parents in person. You gotta do what you gotta do right? I wanted and needed Mystic Pizza. And I would get it. But first, let me tell you about Mystic.
|Mystic Bascule Bridge|
Anyone that has a knowledge of bridges will probably scratch their head or laugh their ass off if they read this. Of course we all had to walk across the yellow bascule bridge. Why wouldn't we. It was awesome. We stopped and gazed down the Mystic River, checking out all sorts of boats bobbing around in the waters. The bridge itself was only 218 feet long but it was magical nonetheless. I couldn't get enough of it. On one of our evenings in Mystic, we decided to dine at S&P Oyster Company, which sits right along the Mystic River across from the weighted part of the bridge.
S&P Oyster company had really delicious food. Their french fries were so good. Yes, they were a little on the pricey side, but the food was fantastic and the view was fabulous. As we ate dinner on the patio, we watched as the bridge would begin it's ascent from horizontal to vertical, allowing sailboats to float on through to the other side of town. One sailboat made me real nervous. I didn't think he was going to make it before the bridge was fully lifted. The kids, my parents and I stared intently, holding our breath, wondering if the sails would get caught, flipping the boat over.
|S&P Oyster Co. Nice view of the Mystic River & Bridge|
As for downtown Mystic, there were many cute little specialty shops, sweet shops and cafes lining the sidewalks. My family and I strolled around Main Street and the surrounding areas of downtown Mystic, window shopping and breathing in the fresh air. We sampled ice cream from the Drawbridge Ice Cream Shop. We perused all the sweets on display in the sweet shops. We admired beautiful and unique crafts and paintings from local artists. Some of the specialty shops were crazy expensive but I must say, everything was also very nice. I loved that there were no chain stores or restaurants in the village. Everything was locally owned.
|The Harp and Hound Irish Pub|
And while the Seaport was very enjoyable and rich with history, the Aquarium was my most favorite part of our adventure in Mystic. The bridge was definitely a close second but the bridge did not have Beluga whales. Yes! Beluga whales! This aquarium had Beluga whales. How exciting! And our experience was not disappointing in the least.
Mystic Aquarium, while not huge, was unique, well designed and very pretty. I liked that this aquarium catered to their visitors by providing great viewing platforms and accessibility to all of it's features. Even if the aquarium was crowded, there was plenty of room for everyone to take in the sights and exhibits. One of the first exhibits we visited was the outdoor Penguin Pavillion. I'm telling you, you could pretty much walk right up the edge of the pool and witness the penguins up close with no glass. They were literally only a few feet from you. Obviously you couldn't touch them or anything of course, but it was really cool to see them that close.
|Tickets to see the Belugas 2007|
They were such characters too. We stood there forever just watching them swim and frolic, each with their own quirky personality. One penguin in particular really liked my daughter. He swam right over to her, following her as she walked along the edge. We so much wanted to pet them but of course we did not. We got to observe them eating a snack of raw fishys. That was fun. They were hilarious, clumsy and cute. (I keep trying to get my place of employment to build a penguin petting zoo in our building but sighs, no luck thus far. They just do not take my brilliant ideas seriously.)
|The Penguins. Too Cute!|
This one acre tank looked like a scene taken from the coastal area of the Beaufort Sea. It actually felt like you were standing in this picturesque arctic wilderness. Along one side of the tank was a long glass observation wall perfect for whale sightseeing. Patiently, the kids and I stood facing the glass, staring intently into the dark blue waters. There were no whales to be seen. We waited and waited and waited. Nothing. Saddened, we decided to make our way to another exhibit. Maybe if we came back before it was time to leave, we would spot a Beluga. As soon as the words left my lips, that is when she appeared out of nowhere to say hello.
|Borrowed Picture. The Mystic Arctic Coast in Winter.|
I turned and laid my eyes upon this unusual creature floating by the glass. I fell completely speechless. We all gasped, our eyes wide with surprise and amazement. Be still my beating heart. Would you take a look at this beautiful, incredible creature. Hello gorgeous. Slowly, we walked towards the glass to get a closer look at this precious creature. We stared at her with sheer wonderment. (I later came to find it was Naku.) This aquatic beauty was swimming back and forth in front of the glass, spinning and turning, hamming it up for us.
She was observing us as much as we were observing her. She was an odd and silly looking thing but that is what made her so incredibly beautiful. Her shape and proportion were just so unquestionably bizarre. It was both weird and wonderful. She was pure white against the dark blue water and appeared to be smiling at us. We were so captivated by her. As she was swimming and diving and showing off for us, we noticed another Beluga appear by the glass. This one was much smaller, almost like a baby. He was giving us what seemed to be kissies behind the glass. ( This one was Juno and he was a baby. He was 4 or 5 years old at the time of our visit. Naku was 25 or 26. )
|Stunning yet odd.|
We pulled up to the pizzeria, grabbing a spot very close to the building. The exterior of the pizzeria reminded me of the many back home. It was in a house. A giant sign hung above the door welcoming everyone to a slice of heaven. Luckily as we walked into the restaurant, it was not very crowded. The interior was wall to wall hunter green wainscoting. I loved it. Booths and tables lined the little restaurant while a big neon sign advertising " A slice of heaven" hung above the pizza counter.
A big movie poster of " Mystic Pizza" was framed on the wall along with other movie photos, memorabilia and metal street signs. It was a very cute little pizzeria. I was digging the atmosphere. We were seated at a table and given menus. Our server was very nice and hospitable. I know we definitely decided on a large plain pizza but we got other food. I just don't remember everything we ordered because all I had was pizza vision.
Mystic Pizza the movie was playing on one of the TVs in the restaurant. I pointed it out to my parents. I don't think they really cared. The day before, we visited Martha's Vineyard where many of the scenes from Jaws were filmed. Now that was some cool shit. My dad loved it. I loved it! We talked about it a we waited for our food to arrive. We were all getting sleepy too. We had a fun, adventurous past few days but we were also exhausted.
|Getting ready to try Mystic Pizza|
Size doesn't always matter though. If the flavor is amazing, that is all that matters in the end and I could not wait to grade the flavor. It seemed like an eternity for the pizza to cool enough for us to not suffer third degree burns. We all placed a slice on our little pizza plates. I could wait no longer. As I grasped the still very hot pizza with my hands and brought it slowly to my mouth, I took one more big whiff. Heaven for sure.
As the first bite touched my lips, I felt my heart immediately sink. Slowly I chewed the pizza. I decided maybe I needed one more bite. Maybe the first bite was just a fluke. I took another bite of pizza. My heart sank even deeper. I'm not saying the pizza tasted bad because it didn't, but it was not at all a slice of heaven to my taste buds. The sauce was very bland. It had a tomato soup flavor to it which was just weird. The cheese was rubbery too.
|Mystic Pizza Menu 2007|
I am not out to bash any place of business and the other food we ordered everyone seemed to enjoy. My parents and kids did enjoy the pizza although they did agree it was not nearly as good as the pizza back home. I, personally would have to grade the flavor as a C- and that is because nothing can score lower than mass produced chain pizza places. I usually grade them a D for flavor. La Famiglia is the only chain pizzeria I have tried that I could seriously give a grade A for flavor.
In closing, I did finish a few slices of pizza because I was starving and I would still highly recommend visiting Mystic Pizza because it is a really cool, friendly place. Just because I was not impressed with the flavor of the pizza does not mean it is horrible pizza. It's one person's opinion. Everyone has different taste buds. As for Mystic, CT, it is a cute little town with a lot of things to see and do. I would highly recommend taking a day or two to visit.
Things To Do In Mystic, CT