If the dinner Verizon IndyCar Series driver Marco Andretti hosted at his home in Nazareth, Penn. June 18 had been typical, sausage and peppers would have been involved.
It wasn’t. Rather than a bunch of 27-year-old Andretti’s hometown friends — the usual group found hanging around his home’s pool and its nine-hole golf course — a group of journalists dropped by to dine and talk racing in advance of the Pocono INDYCAR 500 on July 6. So, instead of the simple Italian dish of sautéed red and green bell peppers and sausage links on a roll, the menu was more sophisticated: grilled chicken, beef and shrimp kabobs were included as well as angel hair pasta, tossed with tomatoes, local mozzarella and basil in a white wine reduction and topped with bread crumbs.
But, an unusual day or not, there are a couple standards at the home. One of them is the culinary stylings of Andretti’s pal, Chef Tim Frey, a restaurateur who has known the driver since they both were in first grade. Another one is littleneck clams, steamed in white wine, which Frey served.
“No matter what, if it’s just a dinner with friends, 100 percent of the time, he will (ask for) sausage and peppers and every single time, it’s clams,” said Frey. “And then he will go run like 10 miles.”
After the meal, Andretti turned in early so he would be ready for testing at Pococno Raceway on June 19. Frey went another way in the morning – to his restaurant, Cherry Lane Café.
Frey said he enjoyed watching the guests tour Andretti’s luxe home, which boasts six bedrooms, six bathrooms, a library, an exercise and game room, a wine cellar and pool and golf course. When Frey visited as a child and Marco’s father, Michael Andretti, owned the place, the chef recalls marveling at it. Now, after spending his adult life visiting, he’s accustomed.
Still, he loves to cook there, which is perfect — because Marco doesn’t.
“He is much more talented in a race car than he is in the kitchen,” said Frey. “And, his kitchen — someone like me would kill for a kitchen like his.”
Also attending the dinner was Marco’s girlfriend, Marta Krupa, and Nick Igdalsky, chief operating officer of Pocono Raceway, and Kevin Heaney, director of media relations.