Unless you're from here, you probably don't really understand the phenomena that is Quad-Cities pizza. It's a unique pie that isn't for "pizza purists." It's described by Roadfood authors, the Sterns, as a "bready crust that is somewhat thin but substantial enough to have a perfectly balanced crunch-chew yin-yang." Though they were describing the pizza at Frank's in Silvis, this also applies to Harris Pizza and many others.
W. 3rd st. Davenport
Harris Pizza opened in Rock Island in 1960. Len and Mary Harris owned a struggling liquor store. To try something different, they decided to start making pizza, a relatively new food to the Midwest. They drove to Chicago and procured a pizza oven, learned how to hand stretch dough, and formulated their own recipes.
Harris Pizza does not deliver, so we ordered carryout from the downtown location on W. 3rd st. (You can pay a delivery service business to pick it up for you)
Growing up, my family always ordered sausage or the Deluxe- a sausage pizza with green peppers, mushrooms, and mozzarella. Their sausage is spicy and layered on thick! They also sprinkle it with fennel (or, as I used to call it, tiny watermelons). I love it. They never use any sort of yellow cheese on their traditional pies.
Richie fancies spicy foods, so I decided to order the 3 Alarm Pizza. It's a thin crust spread with a tangy barbecue sauce, heaps of spicy sausage, onions, jalapenos, and pepper jack cheese. However, we special ordered it with mozz.
The first Harris launched in 1960 in Rock Island. The downtown Davenport location opened in 1969. They later opened locations on Locust in Davenport and on 18th in Bettendorf. The Rock Island and Bettendorf locations offer lunch buffets and expanded menus.
Harris Pizza is always cut into rectangles. For some reason I find this more enticing than a triangle. They use a scant amount of sauce and load it with toppings & cheese. One piece can make a stomach full and happy. That is why it's not for pizza purists.
The 3 Alarm pizza was definitely zesty but not excessively so. I picked off the jalapenos and was able to stomach a piece resulting in just a mild case of heartburn. My stomach is a total wimp. I think Richie would have liked it much hotter.
All-in-all, I loved it. Harris Pizza always reminds me of late night pizza noshing with my parents and sisters. Usually they would order after our bedtime, but we would inevitably wake up and demand to be fed.
Being a Q.C. transplant, I asked Richie what he thought about Q.C. style pizza. He described it as a thin crust pizza with thick crust toppings. He liked it, but said next time he would have to try a traditional pizza, like pepperoni, in order to truly gauge his opinion.
Harris Pizza and Whitey's Ice Cream are both places that people must visit when they return to the Q.C. That's why Harris sees a huge bump in sales before Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Its success has inspired many Harris employees to leave and beget doppelganger pizzerias, but none of them have the recipe for spices quite right. A closely guarded secret, only two Harris family members know the formula.
I concur with Harris Pizza's self declaration as, 'the Finest Pizza in the World.' In fact, I used to have many t-shirts with their logo and tag line on it. I'd kill to find one in a thrift store.