The Freddy was discussed here
a little over a year ago but I thought a new thread would be appropriate (partly to add a more informative title). As explained over there, the Freddy consists of an Italian sausage patty on a long roll with red sauce, sautéed green pepper and melted mozzarella cheese. The recipe doesn't vary.
The Freddy's birthplace and natural habitat is the far Southwest side, around Beverly, Evergreen Park and Blue Island. It originated in the early 1970s and as businesses split or were sold, the sandwich moved on but also stayed at its original home. This has been the main mode of the Freddy's propagation.
My Usual Order
I ate every Freddy I could find and talked with everyone who was willing and a generally consistent story emerged. I got a few lines that differed from the consensus version but tracking the origin and evolution of the Freddy was a good deal less frustrating than figuring out the stories behind the Big Baby
and Mother in Law
Benito (Benny) Russo is generally acknowledged as the father of the Freddy (as well as the father of Freddy, after whom the sandwich was named). While Benny was at Chuck's Pizza in Beverly in the early 1970s he put together the sandwich (obviously not an original creation) and named it after his son.
Chuck's Pizza, Birthplace of the Freddy
In the late 1970s Chuck's Pizza was sold but the current owner continues the Freddy tradition.
It's a traditional version, though my least favorite, with a mildly seasoned sausage patty, sweet-salty red sauce, decent sautéed peppers, all under a thick layer of cheese. I found it to be overwhelming though I imagine plenty of Chuck's customers believe there's no such thing as too much cheese (regardless of quality).
When Benny left Chuck's he, together with some family and friends, opened Calabria Imports farther south on Western in Blue Island. Several years ago the business split and Calabria Imports moved to Beverly on 103rd Street, taking the Freddy along.
The New Calabria Imports
In the back of the new store by the sandwich counter there's a nice collection of framed memorabilia including this old menu from the original store.
Calabria Imports Menu, 1985
As you can see, the Freddy was featured at the original Calabria Imports as it is at the current location.
The Freddy According to Calabria Imports
This is a pretty good Freddy, with a nice griddled sausage patty and generally good accompaniments. Fries were completely ordinary.
When Calabria Imports moved from Blue Island to Beverly, some of the founders remained behind and changed the name of the store.
Stefanelli and Son's
Stefanelli's Version of the Freddy
Of course the Freddy stayed behind too. This is a very good one, maybe my favorite Freddy, with a close resemblance to the Calabria version. One notable difference is that the sausage is grilled rather than griddled.
Stefanelli's is a nice Italian market with some good house made sausage, an interesting choice of packaged goods and a well-chosen wine and liquor selection.
Freddies aren't exactly scarce on the Southwest side but you won't find them in just any pizzeria. Rosangela's and Beggar's, for example, serve sausage sandwiches but use link sausage, don't include peppers or cheese, and don't use the name Freddy. Barraco's, on the other hand, serves a Freddy even though they don't trace their lineage back to Chuck's Pizza.
The "Original" Barraco's and Their Freddy
I chose to sample the Freddy in Barraco's dark barroom. The twin oval patties were highly seasoned with plenty of salt and fennel seed and the sauce was on the spicy side. Peppers came as nearly raw halves, blanketed by the melted cheese. Mostaccioli was miserable. Not my favorite Freddy but I thought it was good drinking food, a happy coincidence since bottles of beer were only $1.50 that day.
I'll end with a somewhat different sandwich served at Vito & Nick's, my favorite spot for southside thincrust.
Vito & Nick's
They serve a sausage patty sandwich but it's not a Freddy, it's a Nicky. This should not be confused with the Mickey served at Stefanelli's and Calabria.
The Big Nicky
I'm not including just any old sausage patty sandwich but make an exception for Big Nick because it's better than most. It's a salty, spicy, coarse-ground, char-grilled sausage patty served on Vito & Nick's pizza bread. After a few of these I've come to the conclusion I might prefer it with less cheese and will order it that way next visit. The fresh-cut waffle fries that come along are quite good too. I suppose you could make it into a Freddy of sorts by ordering it with green peppers.
It's certainly not as if Benny Russo was the first to make a dressed-up sausage patty sandwich—just as there were double cheeseburgers long before the Big Baby was christened—but the name has stuck and the ingredients have become essentially invariant. It will be interesting to see if the Freddy continues to spread as the Big Baby has. I heard of some other Freddies but so far have been unable to track them down. Reports of any other sightings would be appreciated. Has anyone seen a Freddy (by that name) on the north side?
10123 S Western Av
1905 W 103rd St
Stefanelli & Sons
13012 S Western Av
Blue Island IL
3701 W 95th St
Evergreen Park IL
Vito & Nick's
8433 S Pulaski Rd