Crust Dubuque


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. 

Your content goes here...

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:
Garlic cream
Caramelized onion

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.