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Best of the Quad Cities: Food & Drink PDF Print E-mail
News/Features - Local News
Written by Jeff Ignatius & Mike Schulz   
Wednesday, 14 February 2007 03:20

Restaurant that opened in 2006

1. Fields of Pizza

2. Red Robin Gourmet Burgers

3. Portabella's Italian Bistro

 

Fields of Pizza The restaurant business is notoriously brutal, so success is relative. Fields of Pizza opened in late May in East Moline, and co-owner Brandon Tice said the restaurant has done "better than we expected." So it's turning a profit? "We're not making money," he said, "but we're not losing as much as we thought we would." (At least Tice and his co-owners had realistic expectations.) The business model isn't radical - Tice said Fields of Pizza specializes in the "Midwestern" pizza in the style of Harris or Frank's - but the restaurant modified "basic recipes." The crust is a little sweeter than people might be used to, Tice said, the toppings are more plentiful, and a two-cheese blend (one is part skim milk) cuts down on the grease. That recipe - along with a family atmosphere (no smoking is allowed, and no alcohol is served) - helped Fields of Pizza nab the "best restaurant that opened in 2006" title from our readers. The restaurant, located at 1132 Avenue of the Cities in East Moline (across from United Township High School), can seat 76 people and also has delivery and carry-out service. In addition to pizza, the restaurant offers appetizers, salads, wraps, and calzones. And the name, suggestive as it is of acres and acres of Italian pie? It plays off the name of Tice's brother-in-law and restaurant co-owner, Robert Fields. For more information, call (309) 792-9500 or visit (http://www.fieldsofpizza.com). - Jeff Ignatius

 

Asian restaurant

1. Exotic Thai

2. Hi-Ho Mongolian Grill

3. China Wok

 

Italian restaurant

1. Olive Garden

2. Lunardi's

3. Biaggi's Ristorante Italiano

 

Staff Pick - Portabella's

 

Portabella's The competition for the title of "best Italian restaurant" in the Quad Cities is fierce, with the chain power of the Olive Garden and the indisputable charms of class joints such as Biaggi's, Centro, and Johnny's Italian Steakhouse. But the best meals I had in the Quad Cities this year were at the new Portabella's Italian Bistro at 1409 Fifth Avenue in Moline. I can't speak to the entire menu, but what I've sampled has found a near-perfect balance of richness and sophisticated flavors. The bruschetta trio and the fried-green-tomato tower appetizers both offer a wealth of subtle flavors, while the pork osso bucco is sublime and tender beyond belief; I can't bring myself to order a different entrée. Owner Jennifer Sisler said that she opened Portabella's in April in part because she loves portabella mushrooms (hence the name) and found that they "weren't explored very well locally" in restaurants. So there are two portabella appetizers, a portabella-mushroom lasagna, and a portabella-mushroom ravioli. (No portabella desserts, though.) The restaurant's portions are generous, and if you're stuck on what to have for dessert, the restaurant allows you to sample three different desserts (including a marvelous caramel cappuccino crème brûlée) for $15. The prices suggest a high-end restaurant, but Portabella's certainly delivers the goods. And in the grand Quad Cities tradition of pairing completely unrelated fare (pizza and ice cream?), Portabella's on Friday nights features salsa dancing (including lessons) and - through Easter - a seafood and prime-rib buffet. For more information, visit (http://www.portabellasitalian.com). - Jeff Ignatius

 

Mexican restaurant

1. Azteca

2. Los Agaves

3. Ganzo's

 

Upscale dining

1. The Lodge

2. Johnny's Italian Steakhouse

3. Red Crow Grille

 

Store or restaurant for health/vegetarian food

1. Greatest Grains

2. Hy-Vee

3. Heritage Natural Foods

 

Deli

1. Subway

2. Panera Bread

3. Arthur's Garden Deli

 

Pizza

1. Uncle Bill's Pizza

2. Harris Pizza

3. Happy Joe's

 

Bakery/breads

1. Panera

2. Jimmy John's

2. Olde Towne Bakery

 

Seafood

1. Red Lobster

2. Long John Silver's

3. Thunder Bay Grille

 

Steaks/steakhouse

1. Texas Roadhouse

2. Johnny's Italian Steakhouse

3. Outback Steakhouse

 

Burger

1. Boozies Bar & Grill

2. McDonalds

3. Fuddruckers

 

Coffee house

1. Starbucks

2. Theo's Java Club

3. Fireworks Coffeehouse & Pottery

 

Coffee

1. Starbucks

2. Theo's Java Club

3. Coffee Hound

 

Desserts

1. Village Inn

2. Whitey's

3. Cold Stone Creamery

 

Bar food

1. Pluckers

2. Boozies Bar & Grill

3. Bent River Brewing Co.

 

Pluckers Chicken wings are so ubiquitous in bars and casual restaurants that it's easy to neglect the craft of making them well and making them special. Rich Yeargle, the owner of Pluckers Grill & Bar (at 1720 East Kimberly Road in Davenport), spent a year and a half creating his first 12 sauces for chicken wings. And it took a total of two and a half years to push his restaurant from idea to reality. So don't tell him that bar food is merely a solid stuff to soak up alcohol. Pluckers' 15 sauces include the expected (Mild, Medium, Hot, Insanity, and It Hurts express the range of pain), but Yeargle said even those are special, with each having a unique flavor profile beyond its heat. And then there are the sauces you won't find at any other bar or wing place in the area, including Hot Honey Maple and Asian Sensation. Although wings are its emphasis, the menu also includes appetizers, salads, burgers, sandwiches (many of which feature a choice of wing sauces), ribs, and wraps. And the restaurant's layout - with a spacious, open bar area and separate dining section - makes it suitable for family outings or social drinking. For more information, call (563) 344-9464. - Jeff Ignatius

 

Breakfast

1. Village Inn

2. Ross' 24 Hour Restaurant

3. IHOP

 

Locally brewed beer

1. Bent River Brewing Company

2. Blue Cat Brew Pub

3. Front Street Brewery

 

Menu

1. Cheddars

2. Granite City Food & Brewery

3. Thunder Bay Grille

 

Sunday brunch

1. Thunder Bay Grille

2. Granite City Food & Brewery

3. The Lodge

 

Business lunch

1. Thunder Bay Grille

2. Centro

2. Granite City Food & Brewery

 

Late-night eats

1. Ross' 24 Hour Restaurant

2. Village Inn

3. Checkers

 

Family dining

1. Applebee's

2. Iowa Machine Shed

2. Village Inn

 

Atmosphere

1. Applebee's

1. Johnny's Italian Steakhouse

3. Pluckers

 

Most hospitable restaurant

1. Iowa Machine Shed

2. Applebee's

3. Cup-A-Jo

3. Hickory Gardens

 

Restaurant bargain

1. Los Agaves

2. Grinders & Spaghetti House

2. McDonald's

 

Los Agaves Los Agaves Mexican Grill - with locations in Davenport and Moline - was voted the Quad Cities' "best restaurant bargain" for 2006, so a friend and I trekked to the Davenport locale to see if consumers actually do get more provisions for their pesos. Within a minute of being seated, we were given a sizable basket of chips, accompanied by a carafe of salsa. (So far, so good, as free food is always a bargain.) After ordering drinks, we perused the menu to see what Los Agaves offered: 16 combination platters at $6.75 each; 14 "Los Agaves Classics" meals priced between $5.75 and $7.75; 13 "From the Grill" entrées, ranging from $7.25 to $12.95. Orders were taken, and before our meals were presented a few minutes later, I checked out a few other listings. Twenty-four à la carte items: $1.15 to $5. Twenty-three lunch specials: $3.75 to $6.50. Four T-bone-steak dinners: $10.25 to $13.75. The prices were certainly reasonable, but what about the portions? Totally unreasonable, it turns out, as my friend's taco plate was enormous, and my grilled-shrimp quesadilla seemed to feature an entire shrimping boat's worth of crustaceans. The evening would have been perfect if the waiter (who, in fairness, did appear rather flustered) hadn't initially forgotten to deliver our appetizer. And our dessert. And if the screaming child in the next booth had given it a rest. But, still: chips, salsa, two margaritas, queso, more chips, two entrées, and fried ice cream for $31.14? All is totally forgiven. - Mike Schulz

 

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