That it's never been the destination—nor ever will be—is right there in the name: Midway Restaurant and Pizza. By very rough calculations, Midway is located at the halfway point between Hartford, Connecticut, and Providence, Rhode Island, two places someone might actually want to go.
Midway has been there since 1937, but not in the way diners might claim they’ve been there since 1937, serving grandad’s famous French toast: The business has been sold a few times, an unwanted, small-town foster kid. I’m not sure why, though, as apparently there have been a few celebrity sightings over the years (celebrities, I suppose, have to pass through too). Paul Newman was known for ordering the same Midway Special Pizza; there’s a story about Ronald Reagan dancing late into the night with any woman who would say yes; and in a valiant if obvious marketing play, a photo of Danny Glover graces the front page of their website.
I didn’t know any of this when I lived 2 miles from the place—I was too busy eating a bowl of fettuccine alfredo the size of a hubcap in one of their high-sided booths. I was ten. I couldn't be bothered.
It was was my family's special occasion restaurant and our pizza-to-go-place on Fridays—both, because it was the only serviceable restaurant in town. Fettuccine alfredo was my order, and I remember it tasting heavy with cream but being fragrant in a muted way, like the inside of the vacation rental’s spice drawer: dried parsley, maybe some oregano, both miles past their use-by dates. I’d dangle as many long strands of pasta as high as my 10-year-old arms would let me, gobble them up, and take the rest home in a great big styrofoam box, the contents of which would congeal into a thick, unified brick in the fridge. I’d microwave it back into submission, because that is the only reasonable thing to do with a brick of cold pasta and cream. Or so I thought back then.
It feels a little wrong to eat fettuccine alfredo anywhere but at Midway, but I do it because even without these memories, there’s something about eating a giant bowl of mild, creamy pasta that has a way of making you feel ten again. The good parts of being ten: when problem solving meant figuring how many strands of fettuccine might twirl around the tines of your fork at once. I’m still not sure I’ve made it to critical mass yet. Maybe I will in 2016.
- 4 cups cream
- 1 pound fettuccine (I use dried)
- 1 3/4 cups grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 tablespoons butter
- Black pepper, to taste
- Parsley for serving (optional)