I woke on Friday morning feeling strangely refreshed for a woman that had so little sleep but I was HERE damn it and I wanna check the joint out already. We were to pick Jeremy up at 6:30pm so we had a few hours to just tool around and see the sights. First thing on the agenda…food! Carl suggested we head down to downtown Providence and get both a bite and a feel for the place, “I’m in” I told him and we hopped on the I-95 and made our way into town. Not a lot of parking in that there downtown I really must say but we found a structure, cringed at the $10.00 for an hour and a half parking and hit the streets. We found a tiny joint that had a sign proclaiming, “In business in downtown Providence for 50 years” oh that sounds cool but then I saw the sign that said, “Breakfast until 11am” drat! As we passed by I saw a woman that had to be 70 if she was a day behind a vintage cash register, you know the ones with the raised numbers that you punch in and an old guy dressed in all white, from t-shirt to shoes manning the griddle…my neck was craning trying to soak up the picture, that place was more than a restaurant is was an institution, I want to go back.
The hubby was longing for breakfast in the biggest way so we trudged on but even the ghastly Subway was calling me at this point. I was minutes from caving and asking that we get a snack at like Dunkin Donuts when I saw it….a bright yellow sign that said:
Tommy’s Breakfast, Lunch, Cocktails and Lottery.
We stopped, looked at each other and the strange back entrance looking restaurant and without uttering a word headed to the door.
We walked in and it was everything we Westerners think of when we think of tiny New England restaurants, old wall paper, a tiny window with a shelf connecting the kitchen and the, “dining room” a bunch of construction workers, a little glass case holding dusty bags of chips, Life Savers and miscellaneous chocolate bars, a counter of fake wood, filled with people drinking coffee and munching on toast and to the left the bar. We meekly walked through the door and a bity thing of a woman with a tight little bun of black and gray hair cocked her head, sending us to the bar…how could she tell I wanted a drink? We sat down and my senses were going berserk, my head was on a swivel, my nose was taking in the most intoxicating aroma of grease, bread, tomato sauce, fish and years of crusted on cigarette smoke and booze. I looked at Carl and said, “I think this is what heaven must smell like”.
After about ten minutes the bunned one came to the table with menus and alerted us of the specials and said, “what you gonna have?”. Slightly alarmed by the short notice we both picked one of the specials she had rattled off, Fish and Chips for me and Baked Ziti for Carl…with a side of Chowdah. So much for breakfast huh? I added, “I would like a Bloody Mary” to which Carl announced, “I’ll have a Gin & Tonic” I was both shocked and proud.
Just then a woman sitting at one of the other small tables in the bar said, “Thank God there is someone else that needs a drink to start the day”…it was the single scariest voice I have ever heard come out of a woman in my whole life, it sounded like she had been gargling with glass and sand…we both spun our heads to see where the ominous sound came from. It came from a one legged woman sipping on a Tequila Sunrise and playing Keno in the bar….is it too late to cancel that drink order?! Yup too late, the bunned one was gone and we had a new bar friend. Our food arrived but we were so entranced with the goings on of this communal joint that we almost didn’t notice. Everyone knew each other, they all shouted things back and forth, getting caught up from like yesterday…so awesome.
We turned our attention to the food, my fish was the crunchiest, flakiest, freshest piece of fried fish I have ever had…the damn thing stayed crisp even on the bottom through the whole meal. Carl’s ziti was loaded with cheesy goodness, each fork full causing these long stretchy stings of cheese from plate to mouth…he spoke very little but groaned a lot. I so wanted to take pictures but feared it would be seriously frowned upon. We munched in silence and just then a small older gentleman emerged from the kitchen. At first he just stood a few feet from our table, I tried to ignore him but it was getting kinda weird…just then he pounced, “You aunt from heah ah you?” he asked. “Oh no they heard my ‘r’s” when I ordered my Bloody Mary didn’t they?” “How could you tell” I asked feeling my face go flush and letting my fork settle on the plate. “I been heah 48 yeahs in downtown…I know everyone”. That was Tommy….wanted to hug him, this was a warm in a very bizarre way, place that I would return to in a hot second. We finished our food and got the hell out, (felt like we were crashing a party or something) and our new bar buddy was outside huffing on a cigarette in her wheelchair, “Enjoy Providence” she growled. I looked at Carl and said, “This is freaking cool as hell. I could not make this stuff up...what now?”
We drove through the little towns of Rhode Island checking out the sights…there were a silly amount of Pizza and Ice Cream joints in every town…what is up with that? It became a fun game in the car, “Pizza place” or “Oh look Ice Cream” after like 20 we got the giggles and we got them bad! After one really long giggle fest I asked Carl, “how far is Mystic from here”. Not far at all as it turns out, we headed out and found ourselves looking for a spot to park in the tiny seaport town.
Mystic Pizza has always been one of my favorite movies, it’s sweet, fun and I always related to the Julia Roberts character in that film but it was the idea of the fantastic pizza that got my glands all fired up and I was freaking giddy when I saw it was indeed a real place! We knew we had to stop and get a slice even if we did look like stoopid tourists.
The hostesses, brisk as all get out, I found myself thinking, “If that little twit looks at her tattoo in the mirror one more time, rather than take our name I am going to poke her eyes out with a straw”. This went beyond the New England thing, this was a teen feeling all smug about working in a famous place…..said the freaking tourist coming for a slice of the famous Mystic Pizza….sigh.
We were seated and ordered a cheese, pepperoni and sausage pizza, large, (we do have Jeremy the college student to pick up a feed in an hour of three) . Okay I’m gonna give, this was one of the best pizzas I have ever eaten, it was light and airy, the toppings fresh and perfectly charred…could have eaten more but thought better of it, the day was still young. Even now as I write this I cant think of eating another pizza…well until we hit Chicago in September!
We head back to Providence to pick up the kid and there is one more thing I HAVE to do before we leave Providence….that’s right…those dogs! We had to meet Carl’s parents in Dayville Connecticut at a lake shack for steamers but I refuse to leave without getting one of those dogs…and a coffee milk!
Hugs kisses and “get yer rump in the car we have a stop to make, there are some wicked hot dogs we have to try” was Jeremy’s greeting…I so adore my son he was like, “right on. I miss you guys!” Armed with our evening directions to the trailer of hot dog goodness we flew back to downtown…and paid way too much for parking just to experience a, “Providence” wiener.
Final Fun Facts
Drunk girl at the wedding that fell twice and drank a glass of booze, (like she needed more) with a dead fish, (center pieces were tall glass tubes with rocks and goldfish…most of them did not make it through the night) that yacked in her hubby’s car…oh and did I mention he was a police officer and brought his police cruiser to the wedding….lol lol.
Bride was last seen at 4am still in her wedding dress, slamming Amaretto shots and dancing to music that stopped playing hours ago….
My Mother in Law going drink for drink with me in her nightgown and curlers at her best friend’s cabin on Lake Alexander….making a rash decision to try and take a puff off of her son’s cigarette and not seeing that the screen door was closed…she is fine screen door…not so much, she took it out full stop….laughed so hard I thought my sides would split open!
Saying goodbye to Jeremy in the Chicago airport…pretty much sucked but it was wonderful to be with him like always. He makes us laugh, makes us proud and reminds me everyday that I have done at least one really good thing, help create one of the coolest, sweetest most together people I have ever met...we did good!
Arriving home, my house, my smells, my wine and getting back to work to see my people….indescribable.
Oh Oh and watching a house full of Crescimanno’s, (Mother in law’s maiden name, all her brothers, sister, nieces, nephews along with their wee ones. There was a bbq the day after the wedding...in a massive thunder storm no less) take down a case of wine, (that they said was too much) in like an hour and a half…the 2006 Francois Chidaine Montlouis Clos Habert, ($24.99) being the freaking rock star wine that was drained first...shocking! It was fun to bring them these wines, pop all the corks and watch them do their own little wine tasting. They were shy at first, walking up to the table and pouring a little glass of this and then coming back for a little of something else but after a while they were gathered around the table picking up bottle after bottle exploring all the yummy wines I brought.... heartwarming. The biggest hits were the afore mentioned Chidaine Montlouis, J Lohr Wild Flower, ($8.99) grapey, light and fruity, simple to slug back. Oppolo Zinfandel, ($18.99) massive fruit, extracted inky wine with just a faint sweetness & Veramonte Sauvignon Blanc, ($9.99) grassy, crisp, grapefruity with a lemon like finish.
As for the dogs we hunted down, I’m glad we did it but don’t think we would drive until 2am for those again. They were tasty but the light colored semi-spiced hot dog its self was just not my thing…I dug the coffee milk though and the three of us will always have that, standing in front of the shiny silver trailer in the middle of Providence moment…priceless.
From the Diary of Kimberley Strassel
1 hour ago