Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Mystic Pizza and Me, both since 1973


"You went where for your birthday?" was the typical response I received yesterday as I chowed down my vegetarian delight pizza. Framed photographs of Julia Roberts, Lili Taylor and Anabeth Gish surrounded me as I sat inside the restaurant: Mystic Pizza.

For my birthday, I always go to the same place (Friday's. A tradition that began in my teen years and something I've been able to keep up with out of nostalgia. Yes, I'm a cheap date!) This year, I wanted to do something different, something fun, something unexpected. So when the question came up over the weekend of where I wanted to go, I told my partner, "I've always wanted to eat at Mystic Pizza. I don't know why. I just do. I know it sounds weird. I feel like I know it from the 1988 movie with Julia Roberts. Please!"

Begging works!
As we pulled into Mystic, Connecticut last night (about 90 miles south of Boston) a smile plastered my face as I recognized some of the spots that were filmed in the movie, from the bridge where the fishing boats sailed through to the little pizza place at the end of Main Street. Vintage photographs from the movie set fill the paneled walls and the elevated take-out area mirrors the movie. While the restaurant inspired the movie, it wasn't actually used in the movie. (A replica was.) But the place is a homage to the film with framed articles, T-shirts and a DVD proudly on display. (The menu explained how a screenwriter was vacationing in Mystic and hung out at the pizzeria. She turned the setting into the screenplay which became the film.) The place was sensory overload as I bounced into to the comfy booth and felt the springs press against my bum. The friendly blonde waitress wore a T-shirt that read "A Slice of Heaven," and her warm friendly presence made me want to keep ordering from her. (After a large pizza and a slice of cheesecake and two Diet Cokes, there wasn't much space in my tummy so I took pizza home.)

As the birthday calls poured in, I spent most of the dinner explaining to my family and friends what I was doing there in Mystic. My family and friends laughed, thinking I'm being just plain weird and quirky again and I accept that. When I walked outside and saw the lighted sign outside the restaurant, it read "Since 1973." And I had to grin. Mystic Pizza, just like me, was born in 1973.