Freddy’s Pizzeria

Bakery | Grocery Store | Italian | Pizza
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Worth driving from anywhere!
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When we were on our way to Chicago, Gregg Pill prepared one of his famous spreadsheets with about five dozen different restaurants that he recommended we try during our 48 hours in town. At the top of the list was Freddy’s. Four of us ate there for a few hours. After that, all appetite was vanquished, for it is impossible in this place to do the proper restaurant-reviewer thing and have only a bite or two, thus preserving appetite for other dishes, other restaurants. At Freddy’s the food is too good not to binge. It is only a pint-size corner grocery store and everything is presented on paper plates or wrapped in foil in paper bags, and the only dining area is a covered sidewalk outside. Despite all that, the menu is huge and everything — everything! — on it is good.

To be accurate, there is no menu. The way you choose what to eat (assuming you aren’t a regular who already knows what you like) is to look at it all: endless pans and trays and pedestals of food all laid out helter-skelter on every available bit of counter space. There are pizzas thick and thin and calzones large and small, three kinds of chicken, pastas and arancini, vegetable salads, pasta salads, seafood salads, whole salamis, and loaves of beautiful, just-baked bread.

It isn’t quantity that makes choosing tough. This food is beautiful. Not glossy-magazine, too-perfect beautiful, but home-cooking-at-its-best beautiful. Strangely, despite the name of the place, pizzas may be the least interesting thing available. They are good ones with chewy, faintly charred crust and quality toppings, but compared to, say, the brilliantly citrusy lemon chicken or the ridiculously fluffy veal stuffed into rolled baked sheaves of eggplant or the gnocchi that are light as a cloud, the pizzas aren’t all that exciting. Any pasta with tomato sauce is fantastic – sweet and twangy – and the seafood salad is like a gust of fresh ocean air. And the bread that holds such sandwiches as eggplant parm or meatballs is crusty and chewy and impeccably fresh.

To top off a meal, owner Joe Quercia makes fruity and refreshing ices as well as what may be the best gelato we’ve had anywhere on this earth. It is smooth as topcream, rich but not the least bit cloying, intensely charged with whatever flavor is their essence, from hazelnut to fruits of the forest.

Selecting a meal is all the more challenging because Freddy’s is minuscule, crowded with interesting groceries, and every bit of floor space is occupied by customers eager to get their food. Behind the counter looks like chaos: a virtual battalion of Freddy’s employees taking and dishing out orders and communicating with hungry customers. There seems not to be a logic as to who among the staff behind the counter is helping whom on the other side, who to pay, and who’s presenting the food you ordered. Getting food is an exhilarating experience. Eating it is even more so.

 

What to Eat
Freddy’s Pizzeria, Gelato
Gelato
Must-Try
Gelatos are the coup de grace to a Freddy's meal -- each bursting with flavor and so, so creamy. At the upper left is Fruits of the Forest. Below that is Tartuffo. At the top is Tiramisu. At the far right, Oreo. And at the bottom center, hazelnut.
Freddy’s Pizzeria, Seafood Salad
Seafood Salad
Must-Try
The shrimp and clams and calamari in the seafood salad are all impeccably fresh. The octopus is just-right al dente. A paper plate of superb refreshment!
Freddy’s Pizzeria, Lemon Chicken
Lemon Chicken
Must-Try
The citrus punch of Freddy's supremely tender lemon chicken is nearly shocking. This is one of the best dishes in the house.
Freddy’s Pizzeria, Italian Ice
Italian Ice
Must-Try
Chocolate, lemon, and strawberry ice: good enough to provoke fast eating and consequent brain freeze.
Freddy’s Pizzeria, Baked Eggplant
Baked Eggplant
Must-Try
Eggplant is rolled around seasoned ground veal, baked with melted cheese on top and served in a pool of fruity tomato sauce. Divine!
Freddy’s Pizzeria, Gnocchi
Gnocchi
Must-Try
Gnocchi are velvet-tender, stuffed with cheese.
Freddy’s Pizzeria, Timballo di Pasta
Timballo di Pasta
Must-Try
The multilayered timballo di pasta reminded us of a lasagna pie.
Freddy’s Pizzeria, Ravioli
Ravioli
Large, homey ravioli are bathed in essence-of-tomato sauce.
Freddy’s Pizzeria, Meatball Sub
Meatball Sub
A meatball sub contains nearly a pound of good, spicy meatballs. It demands many napkins.
Freddy’s Pizzeria, Italian Beef
Italian Beef
Freddy's Italian beef is no slouch. It's up there in the top tier of Chicago beef sandwiches.
Freddy’s Pizzeria, Bread
Bread
A few freshly baked breads set out on Freddy's counter above the shelves of salami
Freddy’s Pizzeria, Eggplant Parm Sub
Eggplant Parm Sub
One eggplant parmigiana sub will sate a very large appetite.
Directions and Hours
closed now
SundayCLOSED
Monday10am - 7pm
Tuesday10am - 7pm
Wednesday10am - 7pm
Thursday10am - 7pm
Friday10am - 7pm
Saturday10am - 7pm
Roadtrips
This restaurant is featured in the following eating tours.
21 stops | 2213 MILES | 34 hr 19 min

What a yummy trip it is to eat one's way from Chicago to L.A. along old Route 66! This tour of 21 excellent stops along the way includes some that are directly on the old road as well as a few that are worthy short detours. None require a reservation, all are easy on the…

4 stops | 13 MILES | 38 min

It is not quite right that deep-dish pie gets all the attention when it comes to Chicago pizza. Yes, the forkworthy casserole-style pizza was first created in Chicago, in 1943 at Pizzeria Uno, where it continues to be a magnificent meal (as it also is at Gino's East). But Chicago's best pizzas aren't all three…

Information
Price
$$
Seasons
Open Year Round
Meals Served
Lunch, Dinner
Credit Cards Accepted
No
Alcohol Served
No
Outdoor Seating
Yes
Website

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