Freeport on a hot summer day is not exactly No. 1 on the desired destination list.

Dodging drivers from New Joisey and carefree shoppers walking mindlessly down the sidewalks can leave one just a tad short of nerves. Especially on a 91-degree afternoon — a Friday afternoon, no less.

As the late, great Red Sox broadcaster Ned Martin would say: Mercy.

But there is a haven here well worth fighting the crowds for, and it appeals to locals and tourists alike. Petrillo’s, at 15 Depot St. behind the movie theater complex and adjacent to the shiny new Amtrak platform, is a perfect spot for a speedy and fairly scrumptious lunch.

At midday, Petrillo’s features pizzas and paninis. The restaurant has an extensive dinner menu of Italian specialities, and I will return for an evening meal sometime soon.

The homemade chicken sausage cacciatore with penne caught my eye immediately.

But this was lunch, and I could ill afford a bloated stomach with an afternoon of interviews ahead of me. And besides, a co-worker promised a chocolate cake as an afternoon snack. Something small-ish would have to do.

I stopped in with a friend and her 3-year-old, and we had an enjoyable, carefree and pretty quick lunch. We both ordered paninis. I had the special: Roasted garlic, beef and Gorgonzola (Italian blue cheese). My companion ordered the goat cheese panini with tomato and basil. Each cost $7.50.

We split an antipasto salad ($9.50), which was laden with sliced Italian meat and cheese, kalamata olives, tomato, roasted pepper, caramelized onion and Parmesan over a variety of green.

Her son settled for a grilled cheese. He wanted a cheeseburger and fries — what 3-year-old wouldn’t? — and was disappointed that the children’s menu was limited to grilled cheese, hot dog or pasta.

My beef panini was a hit. The flavor of the well-seasoned beef, garlic and warm Gorgonzola blended perfectly. And the panini proved a perfect delivery method. The grilled bread was tasty and light, and held up remarkably well.

The goat cheese was less successful. It lacked a flourish, and the flavor was bland. It wasn’t bad, just not in the same league as the special.

The kid barely touched his panini. Small children can be picky eaters, and they like what they are familiar with. This was his first exposure to a panini, and he looked at it like it was something from outer space. He had a few bites, pronounced himself full, and munched away on potato chips.

My dining companion and I both devoured the antipasto, leaving just a few scraps of lettuce.

I will go back. The dinner menu looked enticing, and the selection of specialty and traditional pizzas is vast.

The staff of GO anonymously samples meals for about $7.