Crust Dubuque

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By: support | February 14, 2017

Crust's Best Starters

Crust became something of an institution in Dubuque over the last six years. It may not have offered the fanciest Italian food, but it did provide some great dishes for the whole family. Many people still talk about the specialty pizza recipes and make-your-own-pasta for their quirks. However, the joy of eating there was often found in their signature starters. Fancy pizzas were a treat, but a Bruschetta or garlic chicken salad was a reliable hit during any visit.

 

It is never easy to recreate famous, revered dishes from a popular restaurant. The closure of Crust means that we have no choice but to try. I have made it my mission over recent month to seek to recreate a little of the tastes and smells of Crust in my kitchen. Occasionally, I have been pretty successful. Here I want to showcase recipe options for these two classics to help others that are struggling with the loss.

A Bruschetta Is A Staple Part Of Most Italian Restaurants And It Was No Different In Crust.

Many of us in Dubuque can say we enjoyed the great textures and flavors of this classic before our entree. You might argue that a Bruschetta is simple and easy. However, there is more to this than putting some cheese and tomato on a bit of toast and pretending you are in Italy.

The recipe I want to share here is essentially a blend of two creations. It is an adaptation of a Guy Fierri recipe that I have twisted to make it look and taste much more like the Crust classic. Fierro won’t offer ideal Italian food, but this is a good starting point for beginners like me. His recipe calls for the following ingredients:

1 baguette

2 teaspoons of minced garlic

Three tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil

14 cup of grated Parmesan cheese

2 12 cups of chopped tomatoes

13 cup of basil

Two tablespoons of balsamic vinegar

12 teaspoon of salt

One teaspoon of freshly ground pepper.

 

The method for making this dish is pretty simple. Cut the baguette in half (length-wise) and toast it. Mash up the tomatoes with the garlic, oil, and balsamic vinegar, so that it makes a paste, and add to the toast. The grated Parmesan and chopped basil go on top with some salt and pepper for seasoning. This isn’t one for presentation. No matter how hard I try, this mashed up version isn’t the prettiest dish I make. This could be down to the consistency of the ingredients and the lack of one key ingredient. My quest to turn this Ferri option into something more recognizable led to a much better dish.

 

The reason that that call this a starting the point is that this doesn’t quite hit the spot in the same way as the Crust version. The main difference is the choice of cheese. I like a bit of Parmesan, but it does need to be mozzarella to recreate the Crust dish. This is easily substituted. From there you can play with the consistency of the tomatoes and the other flavors as you see fit.

Recreating The Crust Garlic Chicken Salad In Your Home.

The second of the two starter recipes that I want to talk about here is the restaurant’s garlic chicken and bacon salad. You may say that a salad is as simple as a Bruschetta. However, you still need the right touch and ingredients to recreate that Crust taste. The Crust version of this salad contained the following, according to the menu.

Fresh greens

chicken

bacon

cucumber

tomatoes

onions

cheddar cheese

roasted garlic

herb dressing

 

That is quite a lot to get right in one bowl of salad, and it doesn’t account for seasoning. To be honest, there are many recipes online that sound far more complicated.

 

The first place to start is with the chicken. Melt some butter in a pan, add two large chicken breasts, season and brown them on both sides. Then you need to make your marinade coat that chicken in all those wonderful flavors of Italian food. Mix four cloves of minced garlic, and about half a teaspoon of both dried basil and oregano. Add the marinade to the chicken and continue cooking until the pieces are cooked through.

 

Once the chicken is cooked you need to prepare the salad and start to cook your bacon. This is where the term “fresh greens” might confuse some first timers. It certainly stumped me when I was writing my first shopping list. The fact is that you can use any greens and salad options you feel work. Sometimes it is best to choose based on the season. The official recipes state tomatoes, cucumber, and onion in a herb dressing. Chop them up, toss them together and add your chicken to the top. Finish with crumbled cooked bacon for that extra touch.

 

Some recipes take things further and suggest additional ingredients for the marinade. Capers certainly didn’t make it into the Crust recipe for this garlic chicken salad, but you can try them. Many recipes also ask for the ¼ cup of white wine. To be fair, Crust could easily have used this. It certainly makes my salad taste good when I do. As for the salad, the world is your oyster. Some people use zucchini, mushrooms, bell peppers and avocado. Some like to toss it all in a caesar salad dressing. It all depends on how actual you want this to be.

Recreating Crust’s Best Appetizers Take Time And Patience.

Those of us that loved Crust know that we cannot get the recipes right the first time. There are bound to be elements that we miss in the Bruschetta and Garlic chicken salad or incorrect methods. However, we can certainly have a lot of fun trying. Each experiment with these classic starters takes us closer to the tastes we remember. It is the best, and utmost fun way to recreate our time at Crust. Think about the dishes you remember, find the essential ingredients list and have fun trying to revive them in your kitchen.

By: support | January 11, 2017

Kitchen Equipment To Open A Restaurant

Kitchen  Appliances

Setting up a new restaurant is an exciting task, especially if you are thinking ahead to your paying customers and interesting menu. However, the only way to create that mouth-watering menu is by adding the right equipment and appliances to your kitchen. Here I want to look at some of the most valuable items that restauranteurs need to create the perfect cooking space. I know that some seem obvious, but others may have slipped your mind.

Industrial Grade Cooking And Chilling Equipment:

Kitchen  Appliances

This first item is probably the most prominent on my list, which is why I put it first. If you plan on having a busy restaurant with lots of covers, you can’t have a bad machine. Ovens, grills, hobs, grates and all other cooking apparatus need to be built to last. They need to be able to handle the high heats and fuel consumption of a busy dinner service while remaining reliable. The same applies to any chillers, freezers and other, more specialist equipment that you might decide to use.

Pots, Pans, And Other Related Items:

Kitchen  Appliances

Once you have all of the different pieces of cooking equipment set up, you need to be able to cook. The first place to start is with the sauce pans, stock pots, frying pans and other pieces of cooking apparatus. The more versatile, the better when starting out with your new kitchen. Again, specialist items can be useful for specific menus and dishes, but you need to be sure that they are worthwhile. A wok is a must for a Chinese restaurant but not so much in more traditional hotel restaurants. Consider the quality of the items as well as the capacity. A stock pot needs to be large enough to meet the needs of customers but small enough to fit the space. Pans also need to be tough and heat resistant for long-term use.

Utensils:

Then all the different appliances are necessary to create the dishes within these pieces of equipment. Once we start to think of all the different items that are used, the list seems endless. First, there are all the spoons, spatulas and ladles for stirring and serving the dishes. Then there are all the different types of knives for chopping and cutting the produce. As with the pans and other devices, it is best to start with the multifunctional, essential elements first. It may be worth holding back on specialist items until you are sure they are worthwhile. We all get drawn in by clever contraptions and have buyers remorse when they sit unused in the drawer.

Plates And Bowls:

Kitchen  Appliances

This is one of those categories of appliances that seems obvious but comes quite far down most check-lists. All restaurants need plates and bowls to serve up the finished dish to the paying customers. Strange wooden blocks and plates are fashionable, but we can all agree that a simple white plate is essential. It is important to ensure that there are more than enough on hand to deal with the covers, breakages, and mistakes. This also means having a large set of appetizer, entrée, side and salad plates as well as soup bowls and pasta bowls. With the bowls, it is also important to remember mixing bowls for creating dishes

Safety Equipment:

Kitchen  Appliances

Kitchens are fast-paced, dangerous places. It is not just us amateurs that cut ourselves with knives and set dishes on fire. Why do you think those blue band-aids were invented. This means that it is important for all restaurant kitchens to have a good first aid kit in a prominent, accessible place. Hand sanitizer and cleaning aids are also essential for creating a safe, clean work environment. Finally, every kitchen should have the right fire safety apparatus and extinguishers in place in case of an emergency.

Portable Air Conditioners:

This final item on my essential kitchen checklist may seem odd after talking about some of the most obvious pieces. So far I have mentioned the cooking equipment, other heat-generating machinery and the pans creating hot sauces and steam. This all results in a boiling, uncomfortable work environment. Portable air conditioners could make all the difference by circulating the air and creating a more pleasant temperature. That is as long as they are in a safe, efficient place. I get flustered when my glasses steam up after opening the oven door. I can’t imagine being a professional kitchen without air conditioning

By: support | December 09, 2016

Italian Beet And Goat Cheese Salad

 Recipes Of Crust

Salads always seem that bit more special when you are dining out. That was the case with the Italian Beet and Goat Cheese Salad that I used to order from Crust. I know that many of us loved the fresh taste and pleasing flavor combinations. The problem is that since Crust closed its doors, we are left trying to figure out how to recreate the dish at home. Thankfully, I think I have discovered a pretty good alternative.

How To Make Your Homage To This Much-Loved Salad.

 Recipes Of Crust

I found the following recipe on the Food Network website. Apparently, it was created during an episode of their Everyday Italian’ show. This sounded like a pretty good starting point to me, so I tried it out. The recipe starts by mentioning that this is an arugula salad with walnuts, cranberries, goats cheese, and beets. Those of us that fondly remember this Italian Beet and Goat Cheese Salad from Crust will recall that this is not correct. Arugula and cranberries were not part of the mix. There are two options when making this salad at home. You can either select the authentic ingredients to try and recreate the restaurant’s classic meal or experiment with a twist. The original Crust salad was advertised as containing the following list of simple ingredients.

Fresh greens

Beets

Local goat cheese

Candied walnuts

A honey balsamic vinaigrette

 

You could also add chicken for an extra $2 back then, so there is no harm in adding a little protein.

When We Combine This List Of Ingredients With The Method And Seasonings From The Giada De Laurentiis Recipe We Get The Following:

Recipes Of Crust

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

One tablespoon honey

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Six medium beets, cooked and quartered

1/2 cup walnuts, toasted, coarsely chopped

3 ounces soft fresh goat cheese, coarsely broken

These Food Network recipes also included three tablespoons of thinly sliced shallots, a cubed avocado, 6 cups of that arugula and a ¼ cup of dried cranberries. I have not added these elements to my dish, but they could add an interesting twist.The cranberries and avocado are simply added on top for a broader range of flavors and a bit of color. 

So How Does It All Come Collectively To Create That Dish We Love So Much?

This salad is pretty easy to make with minimal preparation time. The only cooked element is the sliced beets. Blend the vinegar, honey, and oil to create your vinaigrette and season with the pepper. Then add the beets so that they get a good coating and bake them at 450 degrees F until caramelized. This should take around 12 minutes, but I find its best to check at 10. You can prepare the additional elements while the beets are cooling and then sprinkle them on top while serving. The presentation is entirely up to you.

 

That is about all there is to this take on Crust’s infamous Italian goat cheese and beet salad. Once you should have the basics down, you can continue to tweak it to recreate that restaurant taste or experiment further. 

Category: Recipes Of Crust 

Tags: Crust Recipes 

By: support | November 01, 2016


Commercial Kitchen Equipments Used  In  Crust

Kitchen Appliances

It is easy to become overwhelmed by a list of equipment and appliances when creating a new restaurant kitchen. The more I consider the tools that go into making all the best Italian dishes I have enjoyed, the longer the list gets. A checklist of all the necessary tech is great, but it just isn’t enough when planning out an effective, functional space. It is as important to understand how each of these elements fits into the kitchen as a whole. In this guide, I want to go beyond some of the key items that new restaurateurs need to their practical implications

Consider The Layout Of The Kitchen Before Deciding On Your Appliances.

Kitchen Appliances

There may be the particular type of oven, blast chillers or another device that you feel is ideal for your style of cuisine. However, it can only actually be considered ideal if it works within the space and your chefs can use it with ease. The fast-paced environment of the kitchen requires a clear flow from the preparation to the line and into service. The smaller space, the harder this is. Be realistic about the number of burners that can fit into space.

Organization Is Important In Any Restaurant Kitchen.

Once you know what equipment you need, you also need to be able to keep track of it all. I can’t keep track all of my teaspoons in my kitchen. It must be a nightmare in a fast-paced professional environment with utensils I couldn’t even name. There are potentially hundreds of small items in use. This varies from cutlery for diners and for tasting the food to every pan, ladle, spatula and knife. The organization helps kitchen staff keep track of where equipment is, who is using it, what items are clean or any missing items.

Be Realistic When It Comes To Some Of The More Niche Appliances.

Kitchen Appliances

Many new restaurant owners can go overboard with their wish-lists of equipment. There are lots of fun, specialist devices out there that can set a kitchen apart from other restaurants in town. Personally, I feel that a stone baked pizza brought out on a wooden paddle is better than “easier” methods. Practicality does depend on the food you are serving and the item’s place within the kitchen. Start with the essentials to get the kitchen up and running and use your profits and experience to determine the next purchase. Perhaps wait until next summer to put home-made gelato on the dessert menu and focus on the entrees.

Last, But Not Least, There Is The Cost Of This New Restaurant Make-Over.

Kitchen Appliances

I hate to end on this note, but this vast list of items will mean a massive bill. The cost of fitting out a commercial kitchen can be astronomical to first-timers that don’t fully appreciate the scale of the project. A large piece of the budget will go on that industrial-grade burner and chillers, but there are also plenty of pans, utensils and other appliances that need to be in place for opening night. Making a wise investment with the right equipment is important. Remember that you will make the money back with a profitable approach, big menu, and efficient kitchen.

By: support | September 22, 2016

Crust  Italian Restaurant In Dubuque

Restaurant Reviews

The crust was a well-known Italian restaurant in Dubuque, Iowa. Those of us that remember it fondly may still have trouble saying “was” ever since it became the Barrel House. If you are like me, the departure of Crust was a blow to the area because of the style of dining offered. Others would disagree and say that it is no loss at all because of the quality of the food. I cannot quarrel with the fact that it certainly divided opinion in its time. It had the ambiance, location and pizza options to be a winner with local families. However, it also had some failings that brought out the inner critic in many diners. I want to look back on the triumphs and mistakes of Crust to see precisely what made this restaurant so well-known.

The Location Of Crust Always Brought In The Diners, Regardless Of What Was On The Menu.

This establishment was well-situated on Main St, near the Aquarium. It was in just the right spot that we could pop in whenever we were unsure where to go with the family. It also brought in out-of-town diners coming to the area for the first time. It was local, accessible, family-friendly and had a mid-range menu where everyone could usually find something to enjoy. Naturally, this lower-end dining experience meant that there was a mix of comments about the food on offer. The crust was always a reliable pizza joint with some excellent desserts, both at a good rate. However, I can understand why some felt that the methods and flavors paled in comparison to more high-end Italian restaurants.

The Food Was The Aspect Of Crust That Received The Most Mixed Responses From Its Consumer Reviews.

I am not the only one to must appreciated the food here. Some would say that it is because we lowered our expectations, but I saw nothing wrong with that. Some former patrons were less impressed with the quality of the cooking and the range on the menu. Three elements jumped up multiple times in reviews, to the point where Crust became famous for them. They were the pizza, doughballs, and pasta.

 

Unsurprisingly, this Italian restaurant specialized in pizza. Many of us commended the chefs for their range of specialty pizzas with some unusual toppings and great flavors. A personal selling point to this Iowan take on Italian cuisine was the selection of dishes on the menu. I admit that this could vary based on the season, but there were usually salads, sandwiches, and other options. One Yelp reviewer that visited in March of 2015 took the time to point out that Crust were happy to cater the gluten-free crowd. “The front desk mentioned this place as a viable option for us since we needed a gluten-free menu. We were not disappointed. The food was great.”

 

The oddity of the “make-your-own-pasta” bar received some mixed responses. Some felt uncomfortable with the concept, preferring a set menu of choices. Personally, I felt it added to the relaxing atmosphere of the restaurant. The pasta was delightful, but there were just too many times when it was poorly made. One Yelp reviewer left the following in May of 2015: “about the food, the pasta leaves a lot to be desired. In my experiences, it's usually overcooked or seems like it's been sitting under a heat lamp while it's been waiting to come out”. Sadly I understand precisely where they are coming from.

 

The most famous part of the menu, however, had to be the dough balls. It seems strange to me now, but this freebie was the biggest point of contention. Many of us regulars loved the way that those fried doughy balls complimented the meal. This was especially true whenever we had the excess sauce to mop up. One reviewer, in July 2015, gave a 5 star Yelp review stating “my husband and I were excited with the free bread that came with our dinner. It was like little-fried pieces of heaven”. The problem was that some diners saw through the cheap dough and grease and felt that these nibbles were a little sub-par.

 

What About The Ambiance And Overall Dining Experience?

Restaurant Reviews

There is a vast chasm between some of the 2 star and 5-star consumer reviews that are seen online. The food played a big part here, but so did the service. The worst example I have heard of has to be this experience from a diner in April 2015: “someone in our party ordered a vegetarian salad, and it came slathered in an extreme amount of bacon, I ordered a glass of pinot noir and instead received a glass of Moscato.” This is pretty unforgivable. Thankfully, many diners like myself were always greeted with a smile and a good meal in a reasonable time-frame.

The service and laid-back feel of the place added to the ambiance that Crust provided. As was often mentioned by local diners in consumer reviews, this was not the high-end Italian joint for a fancy meal. Instead, this was where we went for a cheap date night with a long-time partner or a place to bring the kids. Mediocre is not a word I like to use when talking about restaurants, but it works here. There was nothing about the décor and feel to make people go wow, but they couldn’t complain either. The table arrangements and the décor may have been a little tired, but you could still let the kids make a mess.

 

The Crust Is A Restaurant That Will Be Missed By Some In The Dubuque Area, But Not All.

 

Restaurant Reviews

This was never the most extravagant Italian premise in town. However, I stand my view that it could still provide a decent, affordable pizza for a family meal. Those of us that understood it and appreciated the basic feel could forgive the sloppy techniques and menu options. It was a place for local couples wanting to get out of the house for a freshly made pizza and a gelato treat. It was not for the foodies that tried to compare the food to Chicago pizza and “real” recipes. The dough balls may be gone, but I and countless others will remember them fondly. The loss of the pasta, on the other hand, is not being mourned. 

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By: support | September 22, 2016

Crust's Garlic Shrimp Pizza

Recipes Of Crust

If there was one element of the Crust menu that no-one could complain about then, it was the pizza. There was there odd comment about a pizza going to the wrong table or the price of the takeaway. However, those dining in within the atmosphere of Crust couldn’t complain about the flavors and the quality of the meal. One of the selling points of this top Italian restaurant was the range of toppings. There was more than just you basic meat feasts and cheese pizzas here. Some were a little bizarre, as I am sure I recall the word Tequila being used at some point. Others found the balance between unusual and inviting. The garlic shrimp pizza was an example of the latter.

Recreating The Garlic Shrimp Pizza At Home.


Recipes Of Crust

The closure of Crust meant that we were no longer able to enjoy this option in our favorite Italian restaurant. We decided that while the takeaway pizza was a fun treat, there was something appealing about making our own at home. Then we put two and two together and attempted a garlic shrimp option in homage to the former restaurant. The old Crust menu informed us that we needed the following ingredients:
Parmesan
Garlic cream
Shrimp
Caramelized onion
Mozzarella
Parsley

We Then Found A Recipe Online That Asked For The Following For Its Topping

Recipes Of Crust

2 tbsp of butter
1 tbsp of olive oil
Four cloves of garlic
¼ onion
1 lb of small shrimp
1 tbsp of fresh parsley
the juice of the lemon
6 tbsp of alfredo sauce
1 cup of shredded Colby Jack cheese
5-6 provolone slices
Three slices of bacon
We wanted to stay as authentic as possible, so we ditched the bacon and provolone and swapped the cheese for mozzarella and Parmesan. We kept the alfredo sauce as a substitute for the cream to ensure that the dish wasn’t too dry. The garlic shrimp pizza topping was easy enough to put together. The first step was to saute the garlic and onion in the butter and olive oil. This only takes around 5 minutes so be sure to keep an eye on it. Then you stir in the shrimp and cook for another 4 minutes. The lemon juice and parsley are added off the heat for extra flavor. Spread the sauce over the dough base and add the shrimp mixture. Then add the two different kinds of cheese on top. Bake the pizza for 7-10 minutes.


The dough base can be handled in two ways. You can either make one from scratch or buy a pre-made one to save time. The former depends on your dough making skills and the equipment at hand. A food mixer with a dough hook can make short work of a mixture. All you need for the ingredients are 2 cups of flour, sugar, salt, yeast and some water.


It is up to you how complicated you want this garlic shrimp pizza recipe to be. I suggest time with the store-bought base and concentrating on getting that topping right. It could take a few goes to recreate Crust’s recipe, but this is still a tasty version.