Quad City-style pizza

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Quad-City Style Pizza
This style of pizza usually has most of the toppings under the cheese[1]
Place of originUnited States
Region or stateQuad Cities
Created byTony Maniscalco Sr. of Tony's Pizzeria (1952)
Main ingredientsPizza dough with malt, tomato sauce with red chili flakes and cayenne, sausage, cheese
Location of the Quad Cities
Sausage pizza from Fat Boy's Pizza of Davenport, Iowa.
Sausage pizza from Harris Pizza (Davenport, Iowa location)

Quad City-style pizza is a unique pizza style[1] that centers around the Quad Cities region of Iowa and Illinois in the United States. The crust has a nutty taste, the tomato sauce is sometimes spicy, the toppings are under the cheese, and the pizza is cut into strips.

History and origin[edit]

The first person to bring pizza to the Quad Cities was Tony Maniscalco Sr. in 1952. Born of two immigrant parents from Sicily, Tony came to the Quad Cities from Calumet City, IL where he grew up. Originally a butcher by trade, it was in Calumet City where he worked at The Original John’s Pizzeria.[2] He honed his pizza making skills and developed what would be known as "Quad Cities Style Pizza" using a base recipe from the Bacino family. Around 15 April 1952, Oscar Liske had taken over ownership of The Paddock Club (formerly The Horseshoe and later known as the Yankee Clipper in Rock Island, IL).[3] Shortly after acquiring the space, Tony Maniscalco Sr. was brought on to start serving up his signature pie out of the Paddock's iconic Fauld’s oven. This venture was quite successful and helped launch several other locations including Tony’s Club Capri in Moline, IL, Tony’s Pic-a-Pizza in Rock Island, IL (carry-out only) and Tony’s Pizzeria in Davenport, IA (carry-out only).

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.

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,[4] which lends a toasted, nutty flavor.[1] 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[5] sometimes ground twice and spread from edge to edge.[6][7] The pizzas are cooked using a special gas oven with an average cooking time of about 12 minutes. The pizza is cut into strips,[1] 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.[5]

By region[edit]

The dish originates in the Quad Cities region of the United States. Cities highlighted in Blue are outside of the QC metro region.[8] Purveyors as of November 2017 include:

Establishment Location Notes
Bad Boy's Pizza Moline, Bettendorf
Benny's Pizza Milan
Clint's Pizza Moline
Danny Boy's Geneseo
Fat Boy's Pizza Davenport
Fat Jack's Pizza Peoria, Illinois
Fields of Pizza Moline
Frank's Pizzeria Silvis
Gunchie's Davenport
Harris Pizza Bettendorf, Davenport, Rock Island
Hometown Pizza West Des Moines, Iowa
Huckleberry's Pizza Rock Island Not strip-cut
Knuckles Pizza Dunlap, Illinois
Pizza & Subs Rock Island Not strip-cut
Pizza Joynt Milan
Poor Boy's Pizza and Pub Rock Island
QC Pizza Mahtomedi, Minnesota
Quad City Pizza Company Bettendorf, Moline
Riverbend Pizza Place Port Byron
Roots Pizza Lincoln Square and West Town, Chicago
Saint Giuseppe's Heavenly Pizza East Moline
Slugger's Pizza Silvis
Spinners Pizza Milan
Sports Fans Pizza Bettendorf
Stashu & Son's Moline Not strip-cut
The Yankee Doodle Moline
Uncle Bill's Pizza Davenport
Wise Guys Pizza Davenport

The dish has been prepared in other areas of the United States, including Mahtomedi, Minnesota, Mesa, Arizona[9] West Des Moines, and Chicago.[4][10] The Arizona location has closed.[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d ""Quad Cities Style" pizza restaurant nominated for "Best New Chicago Pizzeria"". WQAD News. February 28, 2012. Retrieved March 23, 2012.
  2. ^ "The History of John's Pizzeria". www.theoriginaljohns.com. Retrieved 2018-05-31.
  3. ^ "National Pizza Day 2018: The Quad Cities' Pizza Pie Past". Primary Selections from Special Collections. 2018-02-09. Retrieved 2018-05-31.
  4. ^ a b Sula, Mike (September 8, 2011). "Roots Handmade Pizza: Quad Cities represent". Chicago Reader. Retrieved March 23, 2012.
  5. ^ a b Shouse, Heather (2011-05-25). "Quad Cities pizza: a primer - Restaurants + Bars". Time Out Chicago. Retrieved 2012-03-22.
  6. ^ Kuban, Adam (2011-04-06). "Is There a 'Quad Cities-Style' Pizza? | Serious Eats: Chicago". Chicago.seriouseats.com. Retrieved 2012-03-22.
  7. ^ David Burke (2011-05-30). "What makes a pizza Quad-Cities style?". Qctimes.com. Retrieved 2012-03-22.
  8. ^ "Chicago gets a slice of Quad-Cities". Quad-City Times. May 30, 2011. Retrieved March 23, 2012.
  9. ^ Soenarie, Angelique (June 6, 2011). "Pizza Pit in Mesa offers famous Quad City pies". The Arizona Republic. Mesa, Arizona. Retrieved 2015-08-07.
  10. ^ Kott, Ruthie (July 5, 2011). "Coolest job ever: pizza consultant". Red Eye. Retrieved March 23, 2012.
  11. ^ "Pizza Pit - CLOSED - Mesa, AZ". Yelp.

Further reading[edit]