Freddie Rebel's real good, even if he doesn't exist

Freddy Rebel's Sports Bar and Grill offers a few unconventional items than you would expect from a sports bar like their mahi mahi finished with a sweet chilie sauce and served with black beans and rice. The establishment is located at 5310 Shirley Street in Naples. Jason Easterly/Special to the Daily News

Photo by JASON EASTERLY // Buy this photo

Freddy Rebel's Sports Bar and Grill offers a few unconventional items than you would expect from a sports bar like their mahi mahi finished with a sweet chilie sauce and served with black beans and rice. The establishment is located at 5310 Shirley Street in Naples. Jason Easterly/Special to the Daily News

Freddie Rebel’s Neighborhood Sports Bar and Grill

Where: 5310 Shirley St., North Naples

Phone: 597-3333

Hours: Open daily 11 a.m. to midnight, Fridays open until 2 a.m.

Prices: $5.99 lunch specials; sandwiches $6.95 to $8.95; pizza $6.49 to $15.99; dinner entrees $7.49 to $12.50

Lunch delivery: 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday-Saturday (2-mile range)

Website: www.freddierebels.com

— Anyone with a name like Freddie Rebel has got to be interesting.

And if they run a bar, well, that has to be one interesting bar.

The fact that no such person actually exists is another story. Owned and operated by longtime local restaurateurs Fadi Rabil and Chrissy Bianchi-Rabil, Freddie Rebel’s Neighborhood Sports Bar and Grill is located in the old Stevie Tomato’s Sports Page building on Shirley Street off Pine Ridge Road.

Through the years, the pronunciation of Fadi Rabil’s name has often proven baffling for people. Telephone messages left for him frequently sounded as though the caller was looking for a mystery man named Freddie Rebel; hence, the name of the couple’s new eatery.

But while Freddie Rebel may be a mystery, the Rabils are not mystified by the Naples hospitality industry. They’ve been making a go of it here for two decades.

The couple currently own and operate two other restaurants, one near the courthouse and another at Bayfront. And those are just the latest in a long line of culinary endeavors for the pair: Fadi estimates that Chrissy’s various restaurants have served more than 3 million people in the past 20 years.

Most of Chrissy’s restaurants have been breakfast and lunch spots, so expanding into the sports bar arena is something new for the duo.

“My husband is the entrepreneur,” Chrissy Rabil says. “When he sees the chance, he’ll take it.”

Part of what they believe will set them apart is a strong commitment to value. They’re offering a daily happy hour from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. with half-off drinks (a great chance to try one of the bar’s 28 different beers), $5.99 lunch specials and 25-cent chicken wings. On Saturday and Sunday, they hold a Family Style Italian Night, during which diners can browse a three-course menu and select one item from each — and all for $28 per couple.

They also plan to focus on giving customers what they might not be getting somewhere else. Delivery for a two-mile square area is available, and that has already proven to be popular with the surrounding businesses, Fadi Rabil says.

He’s also working on bringing in out-of-the-area blues bands on a weekly basis. For April, the lineup includes Texas-based Didley Squat, New Orleans-based Rockin’ Jake and Memphis-based Daddy Mack Blues Band.

Then there’s what they’re doing with the dining.

“I like comfort food,” Chrissy says. “You have your classic bar food, but what I think we do here is try to make it a little more unique.”

To that end, the Rabils have created a menu that combines traditional sports pub offerings — if you like fried food and hamburgers, you’ll find it here — with some unconventional eats, such as jambalaya pasta and mahi mahi with sweet chili sauce. And yes, you may stay on the lighter side, if you wish, as the restaurant also has a selection of salads.

On a recent trip, my companion decided to have a hearty sampling from the restaurant’s lengthy list of appetizers. Among our choices were the chicken quesadilla ($7.95) and the mussels Diablo ($7.75). The former is a kind of sports bar menu staple, but the latter — 1 pound of mussels in herbs, garlic and wine — was something unexpected.

Neither disappointed.

The quesadilla was served with Freddie Rebel’s flavorful homemade pico de gallo, and was large enough that I could have made a meal out of just that. A roasted red pepper gave it an extra sweetness that I especially liked.

The mussels, too, were delicious. The sauce proved to be more of a marinara than what I was expecting based on the menu’s description, but I was not discouraged. They were perfectly prepared and served with lightly crusty garlic toast points, and we polished off the bowl.

After, we decided on a pizza. Perhaps this isn’t traditional sports pub food — a cheeseburger and fries might have been more apropos — but Fadi Rabil promised we would be pleased with our decision.

To sample more than one kind, we asked for a half-margherita, half-meat lovers pizza, the latter topped with bacon, sausage pepperoni, ham and meatballs. Pizzas range from $7.49 for an 8-inch small to $15.99 for a 16-inch large. The margherita proved light and fresh, while the meat lovers was hearty and savory.

For dessert, we tried a sampler of sweets, including Chrissy’s carrot cake, tiramisu and a cannoli. The carrot cake, served warm, was our favorite, as it had a nice spice that had us scraping our plate to gather up the crumbs.

All in all, Freddie Rebel’s earned our approval. Not bad for a man who doesn’t exist.

© 2011 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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