To describe Freddy’s as a pizzeria is a colossal understatement. Freddy’s does have their own pizza but their menu includes dozens of homemade Italian speciality dishes that are available for lunch, dinner and catering. This storefront operation opened in 1968 and has served generations from the same location at 1600 South 61st Avenue in Cicero, Illinois.
Our field trip today included three generations of the AmpleBites’ family including my father-in-law, who grew up with his parents less than two blocks from Freddy’s and my wife, Sandy, who visited the store often while teaching 2nd grade at an elementary school in the neighborhood on Austin Boulevard.
The store, not including a small three-season’s dining area, is slightly larger than the typical living room. It is packed with shelves brimming with dried pastas, sauces, oils and vinegars. One wall is lined with a freezer case loaded with stuffed pastas, all ready-to-cook, as well as, waters, juices, and soft drinks. The ceiling is hung with dried sausages and prosciuttos.
The balance of the store is dedicated to an array of delectable breads, cheeses, and hot and cold prepared dishes — from which it is nearly impossible to make a meal selection because they all look so appetizing. Finally, if you have any room left — or if you came to Freddy’s just for this — they have a case of different flavored gelatos and ices that rivaled any I have seen in Rome or Florence.
Our trip was ostensibly to visit the old neighborhood and stop for lunch, which we did. To order our lunch meal we jumped in a tightly packed line with the local residents, police and fire personnel, and a few more of us outsiders. The authentic Italian sub sandwiches and fresh seafood salad, loaded with calamari, mussels and shrimp, were amazing. My daughter’s slice of pizza, made this morning, was saucy, cheesy and, by her account, as good as advertised.
Despite the chaos of lunch line the service was efficient and we were soon eating our meal thinking about what we should bring home to reheat for dinner.
For an appetizer, we enjoyed slices of the home-cured pepperoni and crusty italian bread and, of course, some of the leftover seafood salad from our lunch.
Then for dinner, after a lengthy debate about the delicious choices, we selected a lemon chicken and artichoke hearts dish that we supplemented with some leftover stuffed red peppers and potatoes.
Freddy’s is about an hour or less from most suburban Chicago locations and is well worth the trip. I know AmpleBites will be back very soon.