For years everyone in town has been extolling the wonders of a grocery/restaurant in Cicero.

It’s on 61st Avenue, near 16th Street, they all said. So every time I was in the vicinity I drove slowly down 16th Street looking from side to side, but never saw it. After Ridegland I usually gave up and turned back.

I’d been doing this for so long I’d even forgotten the name of the place. But, last week, after being invited to a neighbor’s home for an Italian dinner, I decided it was time to go straight to the source for some Italian ice dessert.

I called Dorothy Tricoci to find out the name of this wonder-spot, and exactly where it was.

“Freddy’s! Freddy’s!” she exclaimed.

Dorothy should know – her daughter’s married to “Freddy.”

When I walked into the place at 1600 S. 61st Ave., the aroma was like heaven. The pizza, ravioli and lasagna: It’s a little piece of Italy right there on 16th St. I am not being disloyal to Forest Park, especially since just about everybody at Freddie’s is a Forest Parker, or has family in the village.

Freddy is actually Giuseppe (Joe) Quercia, and he’s from Naples, Italy (where pizza was invented). He came here, opened up a restaurant and fell in love with the beautiful Ann Marie Tricoci, a waitress there. Ann Marie inherited her mother’s warmth and charm. She is a tireless worker, greeting the customers with a smile and inquiring about something in their lives.

Everyone is moving, working or scooping up mouth-watering courses swimming in tomato sauce. The restaurant is on the lower level of the building – a charming place. You look down on it from the grocery store. Did I mention it was charming? Oh, and unique.

It was also a reunion of sorts for old Proviso East high-school friends: Guy Lentini, Gary Lorenz, Joe Ponsetta and Bob Cox. The old friends recently went to a LaGrange High School basketball game that was played at UIC Pavillion. Back in the old days, Guy was on the PE varsity gymnastics team, Gary was varsity basketball player, and Joe a basketball champ in 1974 who went on to play for the famous Ray Meyer at DePaul.

Happy birthdays to: Phil Kachlic, Jean Guntow, Chris Wood, Jen Leinweber, Meghan Krieger, Chris Thornton, Mary White, Sam Huynh, Scott Grams, Haydn Bush, Alescandria Eterno, Rachel Hamilton, Gary Neubeiser, Jillian and Joseph Tricoci, Darryl Licht, Patrick Dornecker, Susan Rehor, Diane Janopoulos, Arthur Kazar, Connor Sullivan, Gina Pardun, Norris Killean, Sebastian Selizi, Aaron Rada, Chris Borzello, Dorothy Vanelek, Abigail Fletcher, Kim Reina, Bill Brown, Grace Spence. Happy anniversary to Joe and Lucy Gianelli.

If you have any suggestions for my column, you can reach me at 708 366 4685, or at 708 712 9823. Although I’m still having some phone problems, I should be able to get back to you. On weekends, please call after 9 p.m.

Thanks for spending your time with me.

Jackie is a former Chicago and Elmwood Park schoolteacher with an undying love for music, friendly pets and a host of life’s other treasures too numerous to list. She was born on the far southwest side of Chicago in a great neighborhood when it was a great time to be young.