After living there for 13 years, Greg Mohr says he is in love with the city of Chicago. But his hometown of Rock Island still has a special place in his heart, so the entrepreneur has found a way to bring a slice of his hometown to Chicago.
Eight months ago, he opened “Roots”, a “Quad City Style” pizza restaurant near Damen and Chicago Avenue in Chicago.
“The first thing people ask is, What are the Quad Cities?” Mohr said. “Not a lot of people know. I’ve been answering that since I came here.”
At the same time, he finds he is among friends in the Windy City. When a QC native comes into the restuarant, they can put their picture on his bulletin board next to their hometown, whether its Rock Island, Moline, East Moline, Bettendorf, or Davenport.
Mohr is hoping his friends back in the Quad Cities will help him win a prestigious honor from Time Out Magazine. Roots is nominated for “Best New Pizzeria in Chicago” by the national magazine. Mohr calls it a ‘big deal’ to be nominated with something other than the traditional Chicago-style deep dish.
“It’s an online vote. It’s all about the people,” he said. “It’s a big deal.”
Roots is standing out in one of the most competitive pizza markets in the country and now looking to expand.
“We are looking at the suburbs and different areas of the city. So we’ll see what happens,” he said.
He’s also looking forward to a time when people stop asking what Quad City pizza is and start asking where else they can find it.
Here’s the link to the on line voting. It ends on March 14th.
What is Quad City Style Pizza?
There are six things that make Quad Cities pizza unique, according to Roots.
The housemade pizza dough contains a heavy dose of dark-roasted brewer’s malt that gives the pizza crust a darker appearance and tastes nuttier and slightly sweeter than other pizza crusts. There¹s also a unique Quad Cities spice mix that makes its way into the dough.
The pizza dough does NOT go through a machine. It is first hand-stretched and then hand-tossed until it’s about a quarter inch in thickness with a slightly elevated lip around the entire round. The end result is a cooked pizza crust that is crusty on the outside and chewy and
Due to a unique mix of spices, Quad Cities pizza sauce is thin and smooth and comes off as slightly spicy.
Top Quality Ingredients
A signature staple of Quad Cities-style pizza is sausage. The sausage is a lean and non-greasy pork sausage that is heavy on fennel and other spices. First, the sausage is ground in house and then cooked and allowed to rest in its own juices so they redistribute throughout the meat. After resting for several hours the sausage is ground finer a second time with a different
spice mix and the meat becomes light and fluffy. The very finely ground sausage is spread very liberally over the entire pizza from edge to edge.
Another Quad Cities pizza signature is that almost all of the toppings including the sausage and other fresh toppings go under the cheese.
Scissor Cut Strips
Per tradition that started about 50 years ago in the Quad Cities, the pizza is hand-cut into strips (not slices) using giant razor-sharp scissors. A large 16 inch pizza will have 14 strips, and a small 12 inch pizza will have 10 strips.
A Special Pizza Oven
Roots, like nearly every Quad Cities pizza place, uses a Roto-Flex gas oven to cook its pizzas. The large Roto-Flex oven at Roots can cook about 28 large pizzas at a time via its four clockwise-rotating decks. The average pizza cooking time is about 12 minutes.