CICERO, Ill. (WLS) --Nearly every region of Italy is known for creating something delicious and there's a baked pasta dish at a beloved deli in Cicero, with roots stemming from one of those food-crazed regions.
The regulars know that even though the name is Freddy's Pizza, there is a world of other Italian specialties to be tasted and sampled inside, most of it homemade.
Joe Quercia makes killer gelato, but since the first of the year, he added a timballo di pasta to the everyday menu; it's roots are in Emilia-Romagna, where baked pasta originated, and it uses up leftovers.
"Then the next day add some cheese, some eggs, some stuff around the house, a piece of meat or either sausage or prosciutto cotto, lunch meat," said Quercia.
He starts by whisking up a bechamel, containing cream, flour and cheese. He then cooks pasta, could be spaghetti or bucatini, transfers it to a deep and wide dish, adding peas and fresh hunks of mozzarella. In goes quite a bit of shredded mozz, plus some eggs that are beaten up with parmesan and parsley. He adds the thickened bechamel, which will help bind everything together, plus torn-up pieces of cooked prosciutto and grated parm. Everything is mixed together.
He then layers half into the bottom of a springform pan, adds a thin layer of homemade marinara, plus more prosciutto, and then another layer of the pasta blend. He tops it with more cheese and prosciutto, then bakes it at 350 for about 20 minutes. The result? A deeply flavorful pasta pie, if you will, served with a bit more of that slighly chunky marinara. Talk about Italian comfort...
"It's a little rich, but not too rich," said Quercia.
Now don't think for a second I'm gonna eat all of this, this is just for display. Honestly, one piece is plenty for a person, because there's plenty of pasta, cheese and cream in there, but if you couldn't finish it all, you could certainly take it home, it reheats wonderfully the next day.
1600 S. 61st Ave, Cicero
Open every day except Sunday