Crust Best Starters

Crust best starters 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 months 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 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 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 to make 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 the 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 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 top fun way to recreate our time at Crust. Think about the dishes you remember, find the essential ingredients list, and have fun reviving them in your kitchen.