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Best of the Quad Cities 2004: Food PDF Print E-mail
News/Features - Feature Stories
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Tuesday, 22 February 2005 18:00
Restaurant opened in 2004 1. Centro 2. Granite City 3. Crave Best Restaurant Opened in 2004With its distinctive, New York-style pizzas baked in coal-fired ovens and made-from-scratch Italian dishes with meticulously chosen ingredients, it’s little wonder that Centro won readers’ hearts in 2004. Since it opened in July, Centro has faced all sorts of obstacles, including having construction vehicles taking away prime parking spots in front of the restaurant (at 131 West Second Street in downtown Davenport) during the building of the skybridge. But it’s still earned a strong lunch-crowd following and a growing dinner clientele. Manager Scott Hopkins said that Centro’s strengths include value and quality. The portions are generous at Centro, the prices reasonable, and because everything is made from scratch, the restaurant is happy to accommodate customers’ needs and wishes. Furthermore, its pastas are imported from Italy, and the chesses come from New York. Hopkins said the restaurant is looking for a certain “flavor profile” with its meats and cheeses, so it’s picky about where they come from. The steaks are all cut in-house, as well. And the pizza? It has a cracker-thin crust and comes in lots of gourmet varieties. “This is a very chef-driven and very food-driven concept,” Hopkins said. “And we do it at a great price.” For more information about Centro, call (563)323-0300 or visit (

Asian restaurant
1. Exotic Thai
2. Sakura Japanese Restaurant
3. Hi-Ho Mongolian Grill

Italian restaurant
1. Biaggi’s Ristorante Italiano
2. Trattoria Tiramisu
3. Olive Garden Italian Restaurant

Mexican restaurant
1. Azteca
2. Rudy’s Tacos
3. La Flama

Upscale dining
1. Johnny’s Italian Steakhouse
2. Biaggi’s Ristorante Italiano
3. Centro

Health food
1. Greatest Grains
2. Hy-Vee Food Stores
3. Heritage Natural Foods

1. Arthur’s Garden Deli
2. The Hungry Hobo
3. Subway

1. Harris Pizza
2. Happy Joe’s
3. Bad Boy’z Pizza

1. Panera Bread
2. Arthur’s Garden Deli
3. Pickerman’s

Bakery & bread
1. Panera Bread
2. Great Harvest Bread Co.
3. Hy-Vee Food Stores
3. Olde Towne Bakery

1. Red Lobster Restaurants
2. The Captain’s Table
3. Thunder Bay Grille

Steaks & steakhouses
1. Texas Road House
2. Johnny’s Italian Steakhouse
3. Outback Steakhouse

Best Steaks & Steakhouses
They’re cut fresh daily, rubbed with a secret seasoning blend, seared on each side, and then grilled to perfection. The flavor and natural juices are locked in, making for tender, flavorful, mouth-watering hunka-hunks of beefy love. But Texas Roadhouse’s mastery of the steak arts has more to it than fresh-cut, locally raised meat and meticulous preparation. “The laid-back atmosphere is a big draw,” said Manager Matt Johnson. With peanut shells on the floor and line dancing every hour, Texas Roadhouse draws folks from all over the area. People from Dubuque, Clinton, and Maquoketa share the wait for a table with locals. On a busy night, the wait is about two hours. But don’t fret: Call-ahead waiting (563-355-2373) is available, as is the well-stocked bar. Texas Roadhouse is located at 4005 East 53rd Street in Davenport. – Greg Ball

Most romantic restaurant
1. Johnny’s Italian Steakhouse
2. The Faithful Pilot Café & Spirits
3. Biaggi’s Ristorante Italiano

1. Old Country Buffet
2. Golden Corral
3. Ryan’s Family Steak House

Coffee house
1. Theo’s
2. Fireworks
3. Panera Bread
3. Dead Poet’s Espresso Ltd.

Desserts & ice cream
1. Whitey’s Ice Cream Store
2. Village Inn
3. Lagomarcino’s Confectionery

Bar food
1. Blue Cat Brew Pub
2. Rookies Sports Bar
3. Hunter’s Club

Best Bar Food, Best Brew Pub
The formula for the Blue Cat Brew Pub was pretty simple. Two siblings indulged their different passions. “He loves beer, and I love to cook,” said Martha Cleaveland, co-owner of Blue Cat with her brother Dan. That combination has worked for more than a decade; the Blue Cat, at 113 18th Street in Rock Island, will celebrate its 11th birthday in March. But it’s not so simple, really. Blue Cat’s beer is superior, and Dan’s artistry often results in bold tastes that still go down easy. (The Guatemalan Coffee Stout has more java flavor than most coffee.) And the food selections – whether they’re Martha’s daily soup specials or regular menu items – always feature interesting flavor and ingredient combinations. The two arts are joined at the brew pub’s monthly beer dinners, which pair Blue Cat beers with five different courses. The soups are often the results of improvisation, Martha said, with her favorites being tomato with bleu cheese, tomato coconut, and chicken dill. (When she forgets to write down a recipe, the result is sometimes a once-in-a-lifetime creation that customers will never see again.) She also noted that Dan has a master’s degree in chemistry and has always had a love of beer and beer-making. “He has a bigger test tube here,” she said. Although the business has been successful – and is one of the longest-tenured in the District of Rock Island – Blue Cat’s owners aren’t content to keep things the same. Four new menu items were added in the past month, Martha said, and as much as a quarter of the menu could be changed in the next three months. The restaurant has also undergone some cosmetic changes in the past year, with new awnings, a new sign, new lighting, and a new paint job. Whatever the Cleavelands are doing, it results in a loyal staff. A handful of employees – Bob Murdock, Michael Mato, Kevin Cosgrove, and Bill Vickers – have been at the Blue Cat nearly a decade or more. “People get along like a family here and look out for each other,” Martha said. As one of the anchor businesses of the District, the Blue Cat has seen a lot of changes. Martha said she’s happy to have more people living downtown, and the restaurant is hopeful that more people will live within walking distance soon. “We’re looking forward to having more residents down here,” she said. For more information about Blue Cat, visit ( or call (309)788-8247. (Photo by Todd McGreevy.)

1. Village Inn
2. International House of Pancakes
3. Iowa Machine Shed Restaurant
3. Ross’ Restaurant

Brew pub
1. Blue Cat Brew Pub
2. Front Street Brewery
3. Bent River Brewing Co.

Sunday brunch
1. Thunder Bay Grille
2. The Lodge
3. Granite City Food & Brewery

Business lunch
1. Centro
2. Johnny’s Italian Steakhouse
3. Granite City Food & Brewery

Late-night eats
1. Ross’ Restaurant
2. Village Inn
3. Taco Bell Restaurants

Family dining
1. Iowa Machine Shed Restaurant
2. Applebees Neighborhood Grill & Bar
3. Hickory Garden Family Restaurant
3. Village Inn

1. Johnny’s Italian Steakhouse
2. Centro
3. Crave
3. The Faithful Pilot Café & Spirits
3. Savitri’s

Most hospitable restaurant
1. Iowa Machine Shed Restaurant
2. Centro
2. Johnny’s Italian Steakhouse
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