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Mystic Pizza on Veikou Street, Athens

We were looking for some decent pasta and pizza to give us energy for the forthcoming Athens marathon, and also because we felt in need of something different to the usual Greek fare and wanted to stick to our preferred vegetarian diet. We heard about Mystic Pizza from Trip Advisor and since one of their three branches in Athens was very near to our hotel (The Art Gallery Hotel) we paid it a visit.

This branch is on a pretty pedestrianized road just off Veikou Street, which is an arty but largely down at heel street that reminded us of Toronto’s Queen Street, or parts of London’s East End, twenty years ago. It’s got a lot of potential, go there in the near future and you’ll be witnessing the start of a new sort of social art revolution, we’re sure.

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The waiter, Yannis was shy but friendly. He speaks good English and had no trouble understanding us. He handed us a menu each, the covers were hand drawn with anime-style images…

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…and inside there was one section in Greek and the next totally in English. There were a great range of choices for meat eater, vegetarians, gluten free eaters as well as vegans. Next to most of the dishes in the menu you’re also informed of the calories, Glycemic Index and carbohydrates.

We also noticed that they use only extra virgin olive oil from Crete, sea salt, cannabis flour and stevia instead of sugar in their cooking. As you might have guessed from what I’ve said, Mystic Pizza doesn’t offer fine dining in the traditional sense but if you’re looking for tasty, satisfying food made with organic ingredients and cooked according to a sensitive philosophy by decent people in pleasant surroundings then there’s no reason why it can’t be called fine dining (it also serves excellent pizza and pasta, in our opinion, and the best we’ve had outside of Rome).

Cushions added comfort to the wooden chairs, the ceiling is decorated with blocks of canvas printed with maps, there’s colourful green wallpaper behind the bar and the music was excellent (New Order, Pink Martini, etc). This is music you wouldn’t really know unless you were into the alternative lifestyle. It’s not your top of the charts stuff, instead it’s well chosen to fit the feel of the restaurant so even if it’s new to you, it’ll seem very appropriate.

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For drinks, Lamia ordered a Epsa Cola (sweetened with stevia so it’s got a more natural taste than the usual sugar spike that we’re all used to).

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I had a Fix lager. This is a traditional Greek lager and not one you’d find outside of Greece very much in my experience. It’s darker than the more common Mythos beer in colour and much fuller in taste. If you’re a fan of traditional ale as opposed to fizzy lager, you’ll probably enjoy this.

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We decided to share a starter so had the ‘Mystic Garlic Bread C’, topped with garlic, extra virgin olive oil, oregano, a cheese mix, buffalo mozzarella, fresh tomatoes and basil.

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Lamia thought this was our main, it looked so pizza-like! She tucked in straight away and said,

“Wow, this is one if the best pizzas I’ve had in a long time! Stretchy delicious mozzarella, and it’s buffalo too, we learned in Italy that if you’re going to have mozzarella it should be buffalo, didn’t we. There’s an extremely soft base and crust but it holds together well, not burnt or too crispy. It’s perfect really, spiced gently with a sprinkling of herbs. I’m loving this!”

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When she learnt it was just the starter she was a little sad.

“Wow, I thought this was my main. This is how good their starter is! It’s so big and pizza-like that I filled up on it thinking it was my pizza. Now I’m left lacking in stomach space!

We actually underestimated how large all of the dishes were going to be, especially the salads. Unless you’re very hungry, which we were, we suggest you share a starter and a salad between two!

But we were inexperienced so we ordered two salads, thinking they’d be the small portions most restaurants dish out. I had the ‘Rice Salad’ which was made from basmati rice with mystic dressing (tomato, green peppers, olives, onions, mustard, balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil).

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It was delicious. Everything was warm, you can really taste the peppers and the dressing is a little like a subtle version of thousand island. There’s no doubt that this was cooked fresh as the sense of freshness is the overpowering experience (which it should be when this amount of veg, and especially green peppers, are used along the king of rices). It was a very filling dish; if you’re looking for a light lunch this will more than suffice.

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Lamia had the ‘Mystic Mama Salad’ made from lettuce, rocket, olives, parmesan, tagliatelle and extra virgin olive oil.

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“This was an interesting and different take on a health salad for me,” said Lamia. “The tagliatelle retains it’s texture, not sloppy at all, must have been cooked for only five or six minutes at most. The dressing isn’t strong so the dominant tastes are coming from the olives and the big strips of parmesan. I don’t need to season it at all and the salad leaves are crisp and crunchy.”

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For Lamia’s main she had the ‘Mystic Gourmet Margharita’.

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“This tastes very homemade,” said Lamia, “and not that instant-hit kind of pizza I’m used to in Toronto as this isn’t loaded with sugar. You have to wait a few seconds for the enjoyment to start but when it does, it comes without the feeling of oily overindulgence that arrives with regular pizza. The crust is thin and doesn’t taste or look oily and when I pick up a slice it doesn’t fall apart or bow under the weight of the toppings. Like all good food, what you’re left with when all the rubbish ingredients are filtered out is the taste of the fresh ingredients, which is as it should be and how things taste their best.”

I had the ‘Dinkel Veggie Pizza’ (Dinkel means it’s made with gluten-free, organic cannabis seed and spelt flour).

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Mine was topped with cheese, mushrooms, green peppers and fresh tomatoes.

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As I raised the pizza to my mouth there was a strong smell of green peppers. They must get their peppers grown very locally and with little chemical interference as this wasn’t the first time this evening that the green peppers were as noticeable and ‘green’ as they should be, but very rarely are.

The wholemeal base was crunchy on the outer, soft inside the crust and it gave me a clean bite. There was no stretchy mozzarella to hinder it. I really enjoyed the taste of the crust as there is a slight, pleasant difference due to the ingredients but it took me half a pizza to notice. It actually tastes of something rather than just being the edible plate that I’m used to in England.

There wasn’t the massive spread of tomato sauce in either of our pizzas like we’re used to; we didn’t miss it though, we only noticed as we were thinking of the ways in which they were different to the regular pizza experience you may have at lesser eateries.

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For dessert Lamia had the Chocolate Soufflé. Yannis offered her a choice of sugar or stevia and Lamia chose sugar.

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“It’s a gooey, melty, warm chocolate soufflé, a chocolate crust with a hot melted centre. It’s very sweet and has that instant satisfaction feeling.”

I didn’t have a dessert, I was too full from the huge salads and pizza. But if I did have a dessert I’d have gone for the stevia option, so as to taste the chocolate more.

It was a hugely satisfying meal; comfort food with a healthy, eco-conscious twist. Mystic Pizza has options for everybody and we thoroughly recommend it! And if you’ve ever checked out the great ‘Magic Pizza’ chain in Toronto you’ll enjoy Mystic Pizza in Athens just as much (or even more!) we’re certain.

To discover more about Mystic Pizza please see: www.mystic.com.gr

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