I’ve been going to Freddy’s Pizzeria for about 10 years now; aside from a roof and glass sides for the outdoor seating area, it has not changed at all in that time, and I suspect it’s been more or less the same place since Day One.
At any given lunchtime, Freddy’s Pizzeria is packed with people – average Joes, moms, cops, construction workers – waiting in a somewhat disorganized queue with no discernable end. But to a person I’m sure they’d agree that it’s worth the wait for Italian deliciousness prepared by Joe Quercia and family, who make the food and tend the counter.
I’ve affectionately referred to Freddy’s as the Zabar’s of Cicero because this small, friendly grocery store cum lunch counter offers dry goods such as olive oil and pasta, as well as a display case of antipasti and hot dishes you can take away or eat on the premises.
Primi include a very fine chickpea salad, heart-challenging slices of salami in oil, and buffalo mozzarella with basil and tomato--the last, one of the clearest expressions of Italian culinary genius, supremely and superbly simple, laid back but full of flavor.
I’ve sometimes thought I’d rather eat my toe than another plate of pasta Alfredo, but the rigatoni here is dressed with light cream, just a little cheese, and a few peas--I’d order it again, especially with some sauteed rapini (Italian broccoli) on the side. The lasagna is quite delicate, house-made noodles layered softly over fluffy ricotta and discreetly covered with a chunky, conservatively seasoned tomato sauce.
Rather than being cracker crisp, the pizza crust is a good slice of puffy Italian loaf smeared with cheese and sausage (or any of seven or eight other options). The folks at Freddy’s bake their breads in a range of shapes and sizes, and there's an array of Italian ices and gelati, ethereally creamy and, like most offerings here, made in the back.
For lunch, I usually get rapini, sausage and peppers in oil, and some bread – I also grab a loaf of bread to bring home.
Freddy’s stands the test of time, a neighborhood place that offers deliciousness in a friendly, family environment, a local treasure.
1600 South 61st Avenue
Cicero, Illinois 60804
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