Old 04-02-2009, 08:09 PM   #1
mikeh2
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Default A Special Birthday Lunch

A Special Birthday Lunch

Or some VERY expensive Pizza
May 10, 2003

My wonderful wife asked me what I wanted to do for my birthday this year. So, I pondered this question for a short time and said “Let’s go to Old Saybrook, Connecticut and get some pizza for lunch.” So, we did!

And here starts the story.

About six years ago, a buddy of mine, Terry, and I were bumming around Connecticut and Rhode Island and we stopped at the Amtrak station in Old Saybrook to check out the railroad. There, next to the station, is a pizza shop, called PizzaWorks. It was close to lunch time and it smelled good, so we had lunch there. It was the best thin crust white pizza I ever had.

Three years later, my lovely bride and I were again in the Old Saybrook area on vacation and I suggested checking out PizzaWorks to see if they were still in business. I didn’t remember their name, and she asked if I knew where it was or how to get there. Oh, that’s easy. Just follow the signs to the train station. Huh? Yeah, it’s built right next to and looks like a train station. Amtrak and ConnDOT’s Shore Line East trains service the station, and there’s an Amtrak agent on duty there. After passing three other open pizza shops, we got to the station, and Lo and Behold, the PizzaWorks shop was open for business. So we had another excellent thin crust white pizza dinner and a fabulous greens salad dinner.

So, now we come to the present, another three years hence.

The thoughts of this pizza shop, whose name keeps escaping us after a short time of eating there, came to mind. Gee, I wonder if they’re still there. Wonder how I can find out. Hmmm. They’re next to the Amtrak station. Let’s see if I can find a phone listing for Amtrak, Old Saybrook. I did; got the number; it rang and rang and rang and rang. Time of day didn’t seem to matter. Gee, I thought there was an agent there. What next. I don’t know the name of the shop. I did a web search for pizza shops in town but didn’t get a hit on any with an address near the train station. Eventually, the web site of the Valley Railroad of Essex Ct, a few miles up the Connecticut River from Old Saybrook came to the rescue. (By the way, they connect to NS/Amtrak at Old Saybrook.) They have a section on their web site of “Things to do in the area” and PizzaWorks is listed, with the same address of the Amtrak Station. Great!! So when I called and they’re the same shop that’s been there for years, I mentioned we’d be there on the first train after they opened for lunch.

I had train schedule information from the Amtrak web for roundtrip travel from New York Penn Station to Old Saybrook. We also had a voucher from Amtrak to redeem before August from our trip to Denver last year, so that helped with ticketing costs.

Then I got bus schedule information to get from Allentown to New York City. That bus put us into the Port Authority building, a mere 10 blocks from Penn Station. By the way, if you go out the 34th Street doors, Ralph Cramden will be there to smile upon you. And, he’ll be there to greet you upon your return.

I chose a bus that would give us about an hour to cover the distance between the Port Authority building and Penn Station going to Connecticut since we had some last minute ticketing to do on Amtrak because the travel agent who made and “stayed” our train reservations couldn’t process the Amtrak-issued voucher, hence couldn’t give us the tickets. This worked well.

So, on my Natal Day, Saturday, May 10, 2003, we got to the TransBridge bus depot in Bethlehem for the 6:30 a.m. bus, and it got us into New York at 8:40. That gave us plenty of time to get to the train station. After we completed ticketing, we snacked on a rather good egg croissant sandwich from a Roy Rogers at Penn Station. At 9:30 in the morning, it was a little early for a Trigger Burger.

Train time rolled around at 10:00. All the happy passengers were aboard and we pulled at 10:01 a.m. We had a great trip up along the Hudson out of town, and made all the station stops on or close to schedule. We were dodging wire trains and work trains all the way north (geographically speaking, or, EAST by railroad terms!). {Boston is EAST of New York!}

Six station stops later, we got into Old Saybrook, Connecticut at 12:15 p.m., down only a few minutes off the advertised. As we were on the platform watching our train depart, we heard announcements of a westbound Amtrak that we waited for and I had to photograph at the brand-new high-level platforms and crossover walkway.

And now, for the important part of the story: THE PIZZA!!

The PizzaWorks restaurant is right on the platform of the train station, so, we only had but a few steps to walk to get our lunch – my birthday wish!

We got seated immediately. Obviously, at 12:45 p.m. on a Saturday in Old Saybrook in May, nobody has a waiting line! I should point out at this time there are at least two large O-scale model trains running on a loop near the ceiling around the restaurant. There’s also a second floor dining area where these models can be more closely seen.

After perusing the menu, which looks like it’s been there since our last visit, we had a hard time picking out ONE good pizza; they all had great sounding toppings and combinations. But, we settled on a Shrimp Scampi white pizza, a mixed green salad for two, an unsweetened iced tea for my sweetheart and a Pepsi for me. There’s something about Pepsi and Pizza that go together, even though things go better with Coke®.

The pizza is baked in a stone-hearth oven at temperatures between 650of and 700of, and with a thin crust, it gets baked quickly, and was delivered to our table within 15 minutes. The shrimp was excellent; very large and quite numerous. The garlic sauce and scallions were a perfect blend with the special cheese that was sprinkled about the pizza. The thin crust was nice and crispy. The whole meal was great!

I would highly recommend everyone go to the Pizzaworks restaurant in Old Saybrook, CT., at 455 Old Post Road (same address as the Amtrak Station). Prices are very reasonable for the high quality, fantastic selection of pizzas. For you beer drinkers, there is an extensive selection of bottled beers, imported and domestic.

After we settled our lunch (my WONDERFUL Birthday lunch!), since we still had about an hour and a half to wait for our southbound (OK! Westbound!!) train back to New York City. We went over to the antique shop in the little strip mall on the other end of the train station and browsed their merchandise. Downtown was a little too far to walk to, around, and back in the time we had. But, that’s another trip!

Train time came, and Train 135 showed up on the advertised. There were 3 other passengers who boarded with us. Our nine-car train was rather well patronized; we had to go ahead 3 cars until we found two seats together. The ride was nice and uneventful and it was neat passing ConnDOT and other Amtrak trains speeding past in the opposite direction. Then came the station stop in Stamford, Connecticut. We did our business, were cleared to go, and the lights and air conditioning went off. Dead. There we sat for 45 minutes. The crew made a few announcements to keep us posted about the situation, and informed us they called for a Rescue Train. Well, the train, in the form of a Metro North diesel train, showed up on the adjacent track. It must have brought Good Karma with it, because as soon as it was spotted next to us, our train came to life again!!

And so it was we were off again, on our journey back to Penn Station. After consulting train AND bus schedules, we knew we would be tight on time for the 7:00 p.m. bus out of New York for Bethlehem. The next bus wasn’t due out until 8:30 p.m. So, we went back to the café car, and had dinner, a wonderful roast beef sandwich, salad and beverages.

With the new electrification and track work north (EAST) of New York City, it’s difficult to guess exactly what our High Speed train is traveling at, but, we were traveling at High Speed. We were down by about 35 minutes into Penn Station. We had 15 minutes to make it 10 blocks to the Port Authority building for the bus, but, we used a little Hustle Muscle and with the cheerful smile from Ralph Cramden, we made it to the gate of our bus just as they were boarding the bus 5 minutes prior to the 7:00 p.m. departure.

Whew!

We had a good run back to Pennsylvania. Traffic was light and we were into Bethlehem twenty minutes ahead of the advertised!

Fifteen hours and four states later, we deemed the day a GREAT DAY!

Wanna go for pizza sometime?

Where to next?
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Old 04-03-2009, 12:00 AM   #2
Joey Bowman
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I wish I had an option such of this, sounds like a great time!
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Old 04-03-2009, 12:11 AM   #3
JimThias
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Cliffs notes?

Pizza and trains?
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Rhymes with slice, rice and mice, and probably should be spelled like "Tice."

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