Frankie’s Pizzeria: Where the Secret Ingredient is Love

Family means much to the creative woman behind Rockford’s newest restaurant. Indeed, one could say it’s the heart and soul of this eatery and some of diners’ favorite dishes.

Frankie’s Pizzeria, a newcomer in Rockford’s dining scene, is a family affair. Owner Valerie Pobjecky built the menu upon family recipes from her husband, Frank. (Samantha Behling Photos)

Valerie Pobjecky already has a full-time job along with raising three children. But she wanted to own her own business like her parents did, when she was growing up in Puerto Rico.

In July 2022, that wish came true when Pobjecky opened Frankie’s Pizzeria, located at 6935 11th St., on the far south side of Rockford. She couldn’t be happier – or busier.

“My family had a laundromat, a video club and a small cafeteria, and I always wanted to open up my own place,” says Pobjecky, who also works with truant children at the Regional Office of Education Region 4. “We have a remarkable and loyal staff, and I do a little of everything. I make pizzas and appetizers, I place orders, I do payroll. I try to be as involved as I can.”

Pobjecky began by taking things slowly, opening the restaurant only on weekends.

“We wanted to make sure we were training our employees right,” she says.

Her patience and attention to detail paid off. She expanded service to six days a week in August, and in November she started daily service.

The biggest key to her early success was the food. Using family recipes handed down from the family of her Italian husband, Frank, Pobjecky offers a variety of pizzas and sandwiches. And she recently added pasta specials.

“Our sauce is fresh and homemade,” Pobjecky says. “Our dough is, too. We only use fresh ingredients and we also do our own seasoning.”

The most popular offering is Frankie’s Everything pizza, topped with cheese, sausage, fresh mushrooms, onions, green peppers, black and greens olives, pepperoni, bacon and anchovies.

The Italian beef pie, like many items on the menu at Frankie’s, comes from Italian family recipes and is made with fresh ingredients.

“Our Meat Lovers and BBQ Chicken pizzas are also very delicious,” Pobjecky says. “Our barbecue sauce is like a smoky, old-school barbecue.”

Sandwiches include a meatball po’boy, Italian beef and chicken parmigiana.

The restaurant itself includes a separate banquet room that can hold up to 40 people for parties and other gatherings.

“We have birthday parties where the kids can make their own pizza,” Pobjecky says.
Frankie’s also has a separate gaming room with six individual slot machines.

“We try to get involved in the community,” says Pobjecky. “We sponsored the Little Miss Winnebago County Fair, New Milford Movie night, Sheriff Caruana’s Shop with a Cop and the Rockford Hockey Club. We brought Santa here in December and, when it gets a little warmer, we’ll do some things outside like partnering up with a Cars and Coffee event for the summer.”

In less than a year, Pobjecky has seen her dream become a successful and growing reality.

“I wanted to have my own business and be able to employ other people to make some money and improve themselves,’” she says. “We only have one person with actual pizza experience, so we just took a leap of faith with our employees. I’ve got people who just want to learn and give it a try, and they are the best employees ever. It’s been a very rewarding experience.

“We try to focus on quality, not quantity,” she adds. “We put a lot of love into it.”

Frankie’s Pizzeria is open Monday through Saturday 9 a.m.-10 p.m. and Sunday to 8 p.m.