Dining reviews of Meatballs; Mystic Salad Co.; and Old Lyme Inn's Jazzy Brunch

Meatballs Ristorante & Pizzeria

929 Bank St., New London

(860) 574-9191, meatballsnl.com

Into the clustered Milky Way of local pizza joints comes Meatballs, an offshoot from a Long Island family's outfit featuring New York-style pies and all manners of the requisited Italianite offerings. We enjoyed the food, and while the service was tentative and a bit amateurish, we chalked it up to family members getting on-the-job training. Overall, it was charming rather than annoying.

The salads are particularly great at Meatballs — or so said three of our party of four. Me? I try to avoid lettuce and stuff, but ... The pizza ($18.20 for plain cheese with a variety of combos and incredients) is indeed very good, with a chewy, slightly salty crust that, as we were told, utilizes water from Long Island ferried over for the purposes of excellence. The homemade tomato sauce comes down on the sweet side — I liked it — and a variety of toppings are fresh and bountiful.

From the entrees, Shimp Fra Diavalo ($18.95) was a standout, with plenty of medium-sized shrimp in a dark and mellowly spiced marinara — again with an intriguingly sweet component — and a base of spaghetti that, while just slightly past al dete, was still toothsome and part of an excellent whole.

I also loved the Deep Dish Chicken Foccacia Sandwich ($9.99) with thin-sliced and crisply fried breast strips, tart red pepper and soothing mozzarella on rosemary/olive oil bread. A great sandwich.

— Rick Koster

Mystic Salad Co.

12 Cottrell St, Mystic

(860) 245-0382

Facebook: Search for Mystic Salad Co.

Instagram: co.mysticsalad

A recent special at Mystic Salad Co. combined baby green leaf spinach with quinoa and charred corn, topped with sliced avocado and lobster meat and dressed with a buttermilk, lime and avocado dressing.

How's that for a summer treat?

The new eatery in downtown Mystic will make whatever salad you want — with a huge selection of options, including all sorts of greens, vegetables, fruits, nuts, grains, proteins, cheeses, and dressings. You tell the salad-maker what you want, and he or she concocts your perfect lunch or dinner as you direct the preparation.

This is a terrific addition to the plentiful selection of quality restaurants within walking distance of the Mystic River and has already attracted a loyal following, including locals and tourists.

You'll have to hunt to find the location — which is tucked away on Cottrell Street adjacent to the Mystic River Park — unless they've put signs up since late last week. But there's only a few storefronts there, so it's not too difficult to find.

This is a spin-off of Mystic Soup at 32 Williams Ave., where they offer daily specials, too, like Sweet Potato and Corn Chowder with Quinoa, Spinach and Feta, and similarly, these are not ordinary salads. The daily specials take advantage of the season and are eclectic and hefty.

"So fresh! The best salads in Connecticut," quipped a recent reviewer on the Mystic Salad Co. Facebook page.

Go decide for yourself.

— Ann Baldelli

Old Lyme Inn

85 Lyme St., Old Lyme

(860) 434-2600;

oldlymeinn.com

Old Lyme Inn is full or surprises. Not only is it home to a popular jazz club, it also mixes things up throughout the week with different menus. Come Tuesday, the chef selects a handful of plates at a reasonable price and offers them on the Mid-Week Medley menu. On Sundays, it's Jazzy Brunch time, with a free side of live music on the patio.

Beyond the clever addition of the music, the Inn has curated a brunch menu that leaves one stuck on which mouth-watering option to order. Do you go traditional and order up a custom omelet ($15)? Or is it time for a more lunch-y option, such as the delicious Fried Green Tomato Sandwich ($14)? If you're very, very hungry, the steak and eggs special ($22) and the Cuban panini ($15) will satisfy on both ends of the breakfast-to-lunch spectrum.

Meanwhile, the innocuously titled Breakfast Sandwich is among the most impressive and fulfilling this gal has ever sampled. It's enormous and creatively constructed to outshine most others, from its arrival on a sweet potato biscuit to the farm fresh bacon, cheddar, and tomato on top. It's so good, you'll forgive the hefty price tag of $12.

— Marisa Nadolny

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