Mystic, Connecticut has always been in my mind (and I’m sure in the minds of most people) as the town from that pizza movie with Julia Roberts. Curious to learn what had been special enough to make screenwriter Amy Jones want to revolve her movie around a small New England town, my friend Emily and I boarded a three hour bus from New York’s Port Authority Bus Terminal to find out more.
Upon arriving in an empty parking lot and being told, “you’re in Mystic,” Emily and I were a little disoriented. We wandered towards the shops in front of us and immediately walked back in time to colonial America. Olde Mistick Village is a recreation of an actual 18th century town. Now it contains over 40 different shops and restaurants, including the Bleu Squid; a charming grilled cheese shop serving gourmet versions of the American classic, and a counter full of baked goods and novelty treats (frosting shot, anyone?)
As we wandered through the town, we noticed the strings of bras that were hung throughout the village. They were on fences, in the trees, strung up over shops, and had pretty much taken over the village. After flagging down an older couple who were setting up a table in the middle of village, we learned that the Women’s Health and Fitness Expo was being held in the village that day. Marcie and Howie, upon hearing that we were new to the village took us under their wing and gave us the Mystic welcome. While Marcie continued to set up for the event, starting later that day, Howie offered to give us a drive around the town to get us a bit more oriented.
We gladly accepted his offer and off we went! We sped past the seaport and passed the boats bobbing slowly in the water. We drove through Stonington Borough, an old Portuguese fishing community that now serves as an upscale town where many Manhattanites spend their summers. We drove towards the edge of the water to Stonington Point, where we had sweeping views of Fisher’s Island, the passing boats, and the town lighthouse.
Finally, Howie drove us to East Mystic, where he dropped us off and wished us well. Following his recommendations, Emily and I walked towards West Mystic, crossing the Bascule bridge, a counterweight bridge that lifts open each time a boat passes through. We walked through the Main Street and turned off to a tiny alley to find The Green Marble, a local coffee shop. Here they brew over 40 different varieties of coffee in a decidedly local setting. After recharging our batteries from our early morning (7am bus ride!!) we started to explore the town. Emily and I wandered through the Main Street, stopping to browse through the vintage clothing shops, and beaded jewelry, and weave our way in and out of the side streets, enjoying the fall foliage and bold Halloween decorations.
Finally, the clock struck noon and it was officially lunch time. We headed straight for Mystic Pizza. As we were shown to our seats I couldn’t help but notice a theme going on around me. Movie head shots plastered the wall, Mystic Pizza was playing on a loop on a tv mounted on the wall, and the menu came with a background story on how this little pizza shop rose to fame. We ordered our pizza (half plain, and half Mediterranean) and dug it.
IT WAS DELICIOUS.
When you live in New York City, you tend to become jaded about certain foods like pizza, bagels, and hamburgers. Mystic Pizza definitely lived up to the hype. The small pie was the perfect size to share, and the crust was soft and had a light olive oil flavor. Made with their “special sauce,” I thoroughly enjoyed every bite.
After our lunch, Emily and I headed back towards Olde Mistick Village, taking the path along the Mystic Seaport to get there. As we walked past the water and and the docked fleet of ships, we passed by the Charles W. Morgan, the last wooden whaling ship of its kind.
We arrived back in the village in time for the festivities. Local bands were playing, tables set up along the village paths with filled with items for purchase such as pumpkin seeds, massage options, flame-less candles, and more. We filled up on local snacks at Franklin’s General Store like salt water taffy, homemade fudge, and farm-fresh apple butter.
We had a few minutes to wander past the aquarium before our bus came, and we flopped down onto our seats, exhausted from the days adventures. Mystic had proven to surprise us in so many ways. From the warm welcome we received from total strangers, to the smell of the water and seafood mixed in the air, to tasting the iconic pizza, Mystic gave us a warm and pleasant memory, and a desire to someday return.
- Beacon: A city dweller’s retreat (anamericangirlintransit.com)