Crust Dubuque


By: support | April 14, 2017

Two Classic Crust Restaurant Dips

I had often spoken fondly about the range of dishes that were available at Crust restaurant when it was open. The pizzas and dough balls were usually the main attraction, but some understated starters could steal the show. There were days when a simple dip and bread were all we needed before a large entree. Crust hit the spot with two brilliant Italian recipes – the Giardiniera spread and the Baked Artichoke Asiago Cheese Dip. Crust’s closure means that I am now left to recreate a version of both in my kitchen. This is how I did so.

How I Made My Own Giardiniera Spread At Home.

Crust’s spicy Giardiniera dip was a favorite with our family for many reasons. My wife and I always loved the taste and believed it was the great healthy treat to counterbalance the wine and pizza. The kids utilized their nose up at the smell (either due to the pickled elements or the olive) but had fun with the pronunciation. It seemed like such a simple, versatile dip that I decided to try and recreate it at home. The problem is that the vague description on the menu didn’t offer many clues.


Crust restaurant described the dip as a “traditional spicy olive salad” with Italian cheese that was served cold. The serving suggestion was easy enough. I knew I simply had to blend the ingredients together to get a nice paste and put it on some toast. The rest of it was a little vague. I later found this recipe on Giardiniera spread that gave me a starting point.

1 cup of mixed giardiniera

1-2 cloves of garlic

One tablespoon of olive oil

1 teaspoon of white balsamic vinegar

Ciabatta for toasting.


This all sounded easy enough, and I was able to adapt the recipe to make my version of the Crust classic. Naturally, I added some olives and cheese to try and make it more like the dip that I remembered. The Giardiniera turned out to be a mixture of pickled carrots, celery, cauliflower, red pepper and pepperoncini. Remove any stems and blend this mixture in a food processor with the other ingredients of your choice. Continue until you get to the right consistency, season and spread it on your toasted Ciabatta. The end product results in the same upturned nose from my kids, so I must be getting close.

Recreating The Baked Artichoke Asiago Cheese Dip At Home.

The other dip that Crust Restaurant had that we wanted to try and bring back their Baked Artichoke Asiago Cheese Dip. The flavors and texture in this dip always came as a surprise, even though we had eaten it many times before. This time, the old Crust menu was less than helpful in providing a starting point. We knew we needed Artichoke and Asiago cheese, but that was it. A quick online search leads us to many recipes. It seems that Crust were not kidding when they said that they followed authentic Italian recipes. You can choose the option you think sounds the tastiest, or easiest. I went for the following.


One package of fat-free cream cheese

1/2 a cup of fat-free sour cream

2 of tablespoons of fat-free half-and-half

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup of shredded Asiago cheese

1 can of artichoke hearts

Four medium green onions

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley


You will note that I have chosen fat-free options here. You can go for a less healthy option and may even find that it tastes better. There are a lot of elements here, but the method is pretty simple if you follow it carefully. Start by warming the oven to 350 degrees F. Smooth the cream cheese with an electric mixer before adding the sour cream, half-and-half, and salt. Once blended, add the grated cheese, chopped artichoke hearts and onions. Spoon the batter into an ovenproof dish and bake uncovered. The recipe says to wait between 10 and 15 minutes. I find the best indicator is when the cheese is melted. To serve, simply take it out, place it in a bowl and sprinkle with that chopped parsley.


These Italian recipes are an attempt to recreate the magic of a starter course at Crust restaurant. I may not have completely revived the dishes, but I have come close enough for now.


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






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 | 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


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 | 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.