"What The Hell Do You Think Leona Really Puts In That Pizza?"
I have to admit, it was the movie, Mystic Pizza, that initially piqued my interest in visiting the tiny town of Mystic, CT.
When my friend and I were the only two people to get off at the train station, I had a strange feeling that there may not be more to this quaint seaside village (yes, technically it's a village) than just its famous pizza parlor.
But boy was I wrong. Not only did I have one of the best meals of my life, I explored every inch of the place even in the dead of winter. After checking into our room at Mystic Inn, my friend, Maura, and I walked over the drawbridge to discover the main street that was filled with tiny mom and pop shops, ice cream parlors, and to our excitement, Mystic Pizza. We decided to head there for dinner since it was still only late morning. After walking along a small fork in the road, we came up the Captain Daniel Packer Inne. We came in to dry off from the snow outside and maybe try a hot toddy or two.
Fast forward 6 hours later and Maura and I had officially taken over the fireplace seating, eaten a two-course lunch, and consumed the most glorious hot apple ciders with maple whisky that we'd ever had. In fact, we loved the place so much that we contemplated staying for dinner.
But we had to try Mystic Pizza!
We reluctantly bundled up, thanked our waiters (yes, we made it through two shifts), and hesitantly walked back down the street to the infamous pizzeria. Maybe it was because we'd had such great food at DPI but the pizza just seemed so-so. The atmosphere was definitely fun - they show the movie on loop - and there's more cheese on the pizza than sauce (which I actually love). Certainly a tourist attraction but where else are you going to get to relive one of your favorite Julia Roberts movie moments?
But back to drooling over the DPI. Here are a few of the stand out dishes from Daniel Packer Inne:
Lemon Pepper Chicken*: A PACKER INNE TRADITION. Egg battered, pressed in coarse breadcrumbs with zest of lemon and cracked pepper. Pan sautéed then finished in the oven. Sliced and served with lemon beurre blanc.
*This is by far one of the best meals I've ever had. The chicken is crunchy and the sauce bursts with citrus flavor. The mashed potatoes are rich and creamy. I would have ordered another one had I had a fridge in my hotel room!
Hot Lobster Roll: Fresh handpicked lobster meat sautéed with a sweet sherry butter. Served on a grilled seasoned roll with crisp lettuce leaves.
D.P.I. Crab Cakes: Back fin lump crab tossed with celery, onion and OldeBay seasonings, pressed in coarse bread crumbs and sautéed in virgin olive oil. Served with a honey, tomato and chipotle rémoulade.
D.P.I. Salad: Red leaf lettuce topped with dried cranberries, pistachios, cucumbers and gorgonzola cheese. Drizzled with a raspberry vinaigrette.
Lobster Lollipops: Native handpicked lobster claws wrapped in phyllo dough strips skewered and baked golden brown. Dusted lightly with sugar and served with plum Dijon sauce and sweet chili sauce for dipping.
Roasted Garlic Bread DPI**: Crusty warm French Baguette with a head of freshly roasted garlic and sweet cream butter.
**Addicts, you've been warned.
I returned to Mystic last fall and was able to sit down with head chef Chaz Paull and owner Allison Kiley Nasin to talk about their ever expanding menu for CBS Local.
Below are more highlights from my trip.
Here are a few recommendations in case you want to book a trip to Mystic. I've been back three times since and every time it's great.
A shopping center straight out of the movie Ever After. You'll feel like you're living in the 1720's but with more updated amenities. Enjoy a meal, pick out a memento from your trip, or feed the ducks at the pond.
Got kids? This family-friendly aquarium is perfect for all ages and it's very interactive. Meet beluga whales, penguins, and all kind of jellyfish.
Okay, technically this is one town over in Noank. It's only open from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Get there if you want a casual environment with ocean views and killer lobster rolls.
A great thing to visit on a fall day. Pumpkin patch, hard cider tastings, and a general store that sells homemade apple donuts and freshly pressed cider.
*There's also a great singles scene in Mystic.
*The last time I visited, a man stopped his car in the middle of the road, got out, and told me he couldn't keep driving because he was so struck by my beauty. Granted, he was married and kind of nuts, but this lady knows how to take a compliment!