Freddie’s Restaurant & Pizzeria
This pizzeria, now in its third generation of family ownership, pioneered a unique thin-crust style years before it became widely popular.
When Mark Brockriede, current owner of Freddie’s Restaurant & Pizzeria (freddiespizzeria.com) in Long Branch, New Jersey, took over the shop’s operations in 1995 as a third-generation owner from the original family, many customers were worried that he’d change too much and sacrifice the familiarity of a restaurant that had been in business since 1944. After all, not much had changed since Fred Scialla—a veteran baker—and his wife Grace opened the place in 1944 (except when the business moved across the street in ’52). Even in those early days, according to Brockriede, pizzerias were thriving in this area, demanded by servicemen returning from overseas and the already large population of Italian immigrants in the area. “There were two pizzerias across the street from Freddie’s, and they were all doing well,” Brockriede recalls.
The Sciallas’ four sons eventually took over the business and ran it for 40 years. But when none of their offspring wanted to continue it, Brockriede stepped up for the family (Fred Scialla was his father’s uncle). As some feared, Brockriede made some changes, but the pizzeria never host its homey feel. He started offering delivery for the first time in more than 60 years of business, added more toppings and specialty pies to the menu, and even developed a whole-wheat crust and take-and-bake options for customers.
But some things he would never alter. “We make our thin-crust pizza the same as always, and we don’t offer slices or Sicilian pies,” he explains. “I keep it the same because I don’t know how to do pizza any other way than ours!
Loyal customers, too, appreciate the traditions. For generations, they’ve come in to sit at the oversized tables in large groups or entered through the rear door to order takeout at the back counter and watch their pies get made. In more recent years, the company adopted social media and marked its 71st year in business in early 2015 with a post from Brockriede on Facebook: “Pizza is a passionate business around these parts, and everyone has their favorites, and we at Freddie’s are well aware that there are hundreds of other places to get your pizzas from in New Jersey or even just Monmouth County for that matter. So once again, from myself and my family, thanks to each and every one of you for your continued support and patronage over the years. This past January was one of our busiest [months] ever!”–Tracy Morin
Born in Long Branch in 1947, I bet I ate more Freddie’s specials than any other food in my life, even though I moved to Vt. in 1989. Mostly I’ve missed my family, the ocean, and the pizza (in no particular order) since leaving.