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Restaurants & Bars

Beautiful Loser – Freddy’s Pizza

David Hammond | Apr 13, 200207:05 PM

There’s a tendency among chowhounds to wax hyperbolic about obscure “finds.” I’m no different – and sometimes it’s a challenge to step back and ask myself, “Is this place really great…or just obscure and okay?”

I’ve been to Freddy’s Pizza four times in the last week, and most of the food I’ve had there has been more or less good – some has been very good.

Freddy’s is an endearing place. A bungalow store in a bungalow neighborhood, with a grocery and a take-out section – and a gated eating area on the side that has either Italian opera or Sinatra going non-stop. Kids come by for a slice, a mother wheels her baby in for gelato, and local construction workers, police and firemen sit around eating huge helpings of stromboli and pizza. Atz nice.

The countermen are friendly and eager to please, and at lunch, they have a spread laid out that is highly drool-worthy. Atz nice, too.

Freddy’s is a beautiful little place – just the sort of setup a chowhound would bark for: small, authentic,…and obscure. Problem is, the food doesn't always hit the mark. Riding along on the merry-go-round of Chicagoland cuisine, Freddy puts out his hand, tips the brass ring, and it slips from an oily finger.

And oil is a problem. I had the seafood salad, and the ingredients were exceptional (though I did get an unpleasant, tooth-shaking chunk of shell into the deal). Generous slices of conch, whole mussels, tender purple octopi tendrils, shrimp – and good olive oil. Lots of good olive oil. Too much good olive oil! And not enough lemon or vinegar or salt or pepper or anything to cut the overwhelming amount of olive essence.

Similarly, the focaccia – I had an eggplant focaccia sandwich, and it was dripping with oil. The eggplant was expertly fried, the provolone was good quality, and it was basically a decent sandwich. Except for the three tablespoons of oil. Now, next time, I will definitely ask that they not include the giardinara, which is the main source of the oil, but seafood salad and focaccia point up the key problem with the food at Freddy’s: it’s somewhat inexpertly assembled. The ingredients are superior – the execution of many dishes is wanting.

Having said all that, the stromboli was outstandingly good – I brought home half my big lunch portion and both wife and daughter heated it up later, scenting the whole house with Eau de Homemade Italian. Tender crust, good portion of nicely seasoned beef – the stromboli was the standout.

The gelato, too, was an absolute knockout. I’m not a major fan of ice creams (I like it, but never crave it) – Freddy’s gelato tasted very good to me – I may start craving it around June.

Last night, I picked up some Freddy’s pizza, sausage and spinach. I liked it okay – again, high-quality ingredients, minimal imagination in preparation (not that pizza takes a whole lot of imagination, but it was just…okay, but nothing special)

The big question is: would I go again? Absolutely. I can bike to Freddy’s, and I’m thinking a few friends and I could go, with a bottle of Chianti in the backpack, eat outside and enjoy the calming solidity of the Freddy’s scene. I would, however, also throw a lemon in my backpack to season the seafood salad – and I’d stick with the stormboli for the main course.

Freddy’s Pizza
1600 S. 61st Street
Cicero, Illinois

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