August 24, 2005

Start: Boston
Milford, Connecticut
Mileage: 143 miles
Route taken: Highway 95 through
Rhode Island, exit at Milford.


        The head cold was really taking its toll on me now and the last thing you want to do when you are sick is get on a motorcycle and ride.

        It was only a couple hours until I would be close enough to be near New York City, so I figured I would just tough it out.

        Traffic on the highway was fairly light and I moved east rather easily, coughing and sneezing most of the way.

        There was one stop I wanted to make, though and when I crossed the border from Massachusetts into Connecticut, saw the exit.

        Mystic, Connecticut is a little seaport along the Atlantic Ocean and when I was there 12 years ago was a quaint little fishing village.

        It has definitely grown since then. The main street was filled with tourists, walking up and down the block, looking in stores that were filled with souvenirs and crafts and other mementos of their trip.

        When I stopped for gas I asked the attendant where the town’s biggest attraction was. The man in early 20s looked at me funny and said, “You don’t want to go there. The food is terrible. They are just living off their reputation.”

        Mystic Pizza has been in the town since 1973 run by a couple named the Zelepos.

        It was a small one-story family restaurant and there was something that was magical about the pizza. It was in the sauce and the family secret drew people from all around New England.

        One person it attracted was Amy Jones. Jones, a screenwriter, wrote a movie about the three young women working in the pizza parlor.

        One of the actresses in the movie was Julia Roberts and when the movie premiered in 1988, it made her a star.

        It also gave the restaurant instant notoriety, though the Zelepos’ kept it the same.

        On my visit in 1992, the wife cooked my pizza and I couldn’t believe how good it was. The slogan was “a slice of Heaven” and I couldn’t disagree.

        When I went into the place this time, I was looking forward to the same experience. I needed a little culinary comfort to rid this cold.

        The building is now twice the size it was and with the husband dying and the mom since moved to Greece, the three brothers have taken it over.

        They have done a remarkable job in merchandising. There are t-shirts for sale and some people come in just for apparel, not to eat.

        Robert, the manager, is a personable guy, who took a break from working to talk to me. We chatted for several minutes about the area and he couldn’t have made me feel more welcome.

        But the pizza has lost something. The magic is gone. There are non family members in the kitchen pumping out pizza after pizza and while it is still good, it isn’t magical.

        I ate my two slices and settled up the bill with a young waitress who could have easily been inspiration for the movie.

        I walked out the door and noticed a couple in their 40s walking in. I thought they were out on a date, but they were looking for a poster of the movie to buy.

        Apparently they had eaten down the street. Of course they could have bought a frozen pizza for later if they wanted to.