My brother, Dodger Fan, is now used to the fact that spending a day with me often requires more than one pizza experience. True to form, I ended our recent day trip to the Jersey Shore with a visit to a place I can’t believe I overlooked during my days living in the Garden State: Federici’s Family Italian Restaurant in Freehold. I was reminded of Federici’s by my boss, General Joe, who once lived in Freehold.
“Everyone growing up had a big round grease stain in the middle of the front seat of their car from Federici’s Pizza.”
Freehold is Springsteen’s birthplace. It is just a short trip inland from Asbury Park, the home of his musical apprenticeship. Even though his late organ player, Danny, had the same last name, I could find no connection with him to Federici’s Pizza.
We found Federici’s smack dab in the middle of the upscale but quaint Freehold downtown district. Although it featured a large outdoor seating area in front, the inclement weather led us inside. There we came upon what had to be the longest restaurant I have ever seen. Their shotgun-style setup segmented the place into three separate dining rooms. We were seated in the front one which featured the bar.
The menu, placemat, and wall of photos collectively told its history. Started in 1921 by “Pop” Federici from Italy, the restaurant grew over the years while remaining in its original location. They have collected many “Best in NJ” pizza awards
As with all good pizza joints, we found what we wanted right at the top of the menu and ordered a large plain for $12.95. (Note that they are cash only.) From their fairly extensive menu of Italian dishes, we also split a deliciously spicy chicken Caesar salad.
The pie came piping hot served atop a silver platform. Just as described, the crust was good and thin. The sauce and cheese looked perfectly united. Diving in, I found the top of the pie to be flavorful and zesty, crisp and firm. The underside left me slightly disappointed since I found the crust to be somewhat dry and cracker-like. A chewier, more robust crust would have given this delicious pie a perfect score in the Snob’s book.
Our tour would not be complete without visiting the two still-standing homes of the three Freehold homes in which Springsteen lived. They happened to be close by, and you can see photos of them at the Music City Mike site.
Federici’s is a must stop for any New Jersey pizza-lover—Dodger Fan gives Federici’s a “two-thumbs up.” Take a pie home with you and stain your car seats in Springsteen’s honor!
PIZZA SNOB RATING ****Near Perfection
Federici’s Family Italian Restaurant
14 East Main Street
Freehold, NJ 07728
Federici’s is my number one in NJ… followed closely by Deninos in Aberdeen and The Star Tavern. All are similar, thin crust pies.