One of America’s Favorites – Quad City-Style Pizza

February 17, 2020 at 6:02 AM | Posted in One of America's Favorites | Leave a comment
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Quad-City Style Pizza – This style of pizza usually has most of the toppings under the cheese

Quad City-style pizza is a unique pizza style that centers around the Quad Cities region of Iowa and Illinois in the United States. Characteristics of this style of pizza include a pizza crust made with malt, tomato sauce sometimes made with cayenne and red chili flakes, toppings placed under the cheese, and strips being cut instead of slices.

The first business to bring “Quad City”-style pizza to the public was Frank’s Pizza in 1955.

Tony’s Club Capri was the only sit-down style restaurant and bar. Phyllis Maniscalco, Tony’s wife, worked the cash registers, helped in the kitchen when needed and helped manage the business overall. Throughout the years, Tony’s children Giana and Tony Jr., as well as other family members, would also help out in the various locations. The sausage was always handmade, and Tony would pre-mix his spices by hand and measure them out in bags for his employees to then mix with the ground pork he butchered himself. Cheese was always grated in house and imported from a Chicago-area supplier. In addition to pizza, Tony served up Italian beef sandwiches, stromboli, house-made sausages, a variety of pasta dishes with his own signature marinara sauce. Desserts included spumoni ice cream and cannoli. This was his first location to offer more than just pizza.

Tony Sr.’s brother Frank Maniscalco also moved to the Quad Cities upon hearing of his brother’s success and decided to open up an additional location called Frank’s in Davenport off of Locust St. This is not to be confused with Frank’s in Silvis, IL. Tony Sr. was friends with the Serra family, and they had approached Tony Sr. about his recipe as they wanted to start a restaurant in Minnesota. Tony obliged, and after the Minnesota location failed the Serra’s came back to Tony Sr. and asked if they could open up in the Quad Cities. Since Tony Sr. did not have any restaurants in the Silvis/East Moline area at the time, it was decided that they would open a location in 1955 which still stands to this day – Frank’s Club Napoli Pizza in Silvis, IL. Also, contrary to popular belief, Harris Pizza was not the original “Quad Cities-style pizza”. Leonard and his wife Mary owned a small package liquor store in Rock Island, IL. Patrons often requested food, and Leonard saw this as an opportunity to expand his business. In 1960, an employee of Tony Sr. named Dick Kennedy, who also happened to be a good friend of Leonard Harris, had helped the Harris family develop the base recipe for Harris’ that they still use to this day.

Sausage pizza from Harris Pizza (Davenport, Iowa location)

In addition to the brick-and-mortar locations, Tony Sr. also made a name for himself in the grocery store’s freezer section. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, Tony had started delivering par-baked/half-baked pizzas to the local A&P grocery stores. These were the first frozen pizzas in the Quad Cities at the time. In 1968, Tony Sr.’s pizza businesses and the recipes were sold to the family of Mama Bosso’s, who to this day still make pizzas you can purchase in the freezer section of local Quad Cities grocers such as Hy-Vee.

After that sale, Tony Sr. decided to venture into the home improvement business, but the restaurant industry still called his name. He would go on to open two additional locations in the 1970s – one in East Moline and one in the Wells Fargo Bowling Alley (where Clint’s used to be on the Avenue of the Cities in Moline). Tony finally got out of the restaurant business in the late 1970s when these locations were sold. He continued to work in home improvement until his untimely passing on July 6th, 1994.

Quad City-style pizza dough contains a “spice jam”, which is heavy on malt, which lends a toasted, nutty flavor. The pizzas are hand-tossed to be stretched into an even quarter-inch thin crust with a slight lip ringing the edge. The sauce contains both red chili flakes and ground cayenne, and the smooth, thin tomato spread is more spicy than sweet. The sausage is typically a thick blanket of lean, fennel-flecked Italian sausage sometimes ground twice and spread from edge to edge. The pizzas are cooked using a special gas oven with an average cooking time of about 12 minutes. The pizza is cut into strips, as opposed to being cut in slices. An average 16-inch pizza has about 14 strips, and a 10-inch pizza has about 10 strips.

 

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