After putting over 200,000 miles on my car over the past six plus years, I had to get a new car a few weeks ago and I took my time in trying to figure out what I wanted. My wife and I were in Muscatine looking at cars at a dealership and we decided to head downtown to look for someplace to eat. My wife spied a Mexican food place on the east side of 2nd St. by the name of Guadalajara. (see map) It looked inviting enough for us to stop and give it a try.
There's a large Mexican population in the Muscatine area thanks to hundreds of migrant farm workers who stayed in the area years ago after coming up to the U.S. to work in the melon fields in the Mississippi River valley. The Vazquez family - Ramiro and Lupe - were entrenched in the Muscatine community for a number of years, Ramiro owning his own construction company, and Lupe working for the local school district. An opportunity to buy and run their own restaurant came up nearly seven years ago and the Vasquez's jumped at the chance mainly for their love of homemade Mexican food and the recipes that had been handed down in the family.
The original Guadalajara was a small place on the west side of 2nd St. But in a short time, the Vazquez's bought a building directly across the street more than doubling their capacity. In the fall of 2013, the owner of the building right next to theirs came to the couple with a proposition - the breakfast/lunch shop next door was moving and would they be interested in expanding their restaurant into that space. Lupe Vazquez had longed for a larger and more efficient kitchen and now was the chance to get it. Ramiro Vazquez's construction company did the remodeling of the space, putting in a much larger kitchen, more seating for the restaurant and less waiting times for patrons. The expanded dining room, along with the new kitchen, opened in the early summer of 2014. When the Vazquez's first opened for business across the street, they had a staff of one cook and two servers. Today, Guadalajara has a staff of four cooks and 24 servers.
We were greeted just inside the front door by a young lady who guided us to the new part of Guadalajara and put us in a spacious booth that would have comfortably seated a family of six. She dropped off a couple menus for us and a short time later another young lady dropped off a basket of fresh tortilla chips and some salsa.
The menu at Guadalajara is pretty extensive. Entrees include steak and/or shrimp platters, chicken specialties and combination plates. Appetizers, soups and tortas are also available. Everything looked to be authentic Mexican fare.
A separate part of the menu featured health conscious dishes Guadalajara serves up as part of the Blue Zones Project - a healthy living and eating initiative that is being implemented at schools and restaurants across the state of Iowa. Low fat and low sodium dishes are available at Guadalajara as part of the Blue Zones Project menu.
Our server Alexandra came over to greet us while we were looking through the menu and asked what we'd like to get. I ordered up a bottle of the Dos Equis Amber beer while Cindy went with a margarita. It turned out that Cindy's margarita was almost too sweet and somewhat syrupy.
I immediately found what I wanted to get for dinner, the enchiladas verdes - enchiladas filled with one choice of meat (steak, ground beef, chicken, pork al pastor, lengua - or beef tongue - and chorizo) and topped with a green chile sauce. I picked the pork al pastor for my meat filling. Cindy was having a more difficult time figuring out what she wanted, but she ended up getting the combo fajitas - steak, chicken and shrimp.
We've found that good Mexican food takes time and it was over 15 minutes from the time we ordered to the time that the food made it to our table. And it wasn't because there were a lot of people in the place. And the food looked good. My plate was full of refried beans, Mexican rice, and three medium sized enchiladas. A generous dollop of guacamole was included on the plate - a nice touch, I thought.
Cindy's fajitas were still sizzling when they brought them to the table. She immediately began to stir them up - a trick we learned years ago to keep the meat and veggies on the plate from getting burned on one side. A separate large plate of refried beans, rice, chopped tomatoes and guacamole came with the fajita meat.
I decided that I need some additional chile verde sauce and I flagged down Alexandra to ask for some. I will say that her service was very good - she kept checking on us before and during the dinner without being obtrusive. She cheerfully took care of any request - more chips, more salsa, more beer - that we had.
The al pastor enchiladas were very good. The pork had been simmered in spices and had a wonderful quality fresh taste. Along with the chile verde sauce and the guacamole, the al pastor enchiladas were very good. If I had a quibble with the taste, it was that it was too salty for my tastes.
Cindy declared her fajitas to be very good, as well, however she felt the meat was also too salty. She was eating the meat off the hotplate and picking at the rice and beans on her plate. She offered me a bite of the fajita meat and I tried some of the steak. The seasoning was a little salty, but the overall taste was delicious.
The portions were huge, so big that we couldn't even begin to finish all of the items we had on our plates. It didn't help that the fresh chips and the excellent salsa served before we ordered our meals were devoured rather quickly.
Our experience at Guadalajara was nothing but positive. The food was very good and very authentic, albeit a little too salty for our tastes. The service from Alexandra and the others who helped out was excellent. We were comfortable and at ease in the new dining space at Guadalajara. In an area where there's a significant Hispanic population you should be able to find a very good Mexican restaurant. And we found one with Guadalajara.
Muscatine, Iowa is a city of about 23,000 people and approximately 1 out of 6 residents are Hispanic. Years ago, migrant farm workers from Mexico made the trek to the Mississippi River valleys around Muscatine to work in the melon fields. Many of them stayed in Muscatine and put down roots that have lasted for generations. Because of the large Latino population in the area, a number of very good Mexican restaurants have thrived in the area for years. One place that I knew about, but had never been to until recently, is a small Mexican tienda/restaurante by the name of El Olmito.
Felix Calderon was 15 years old when his father moved the family from extreme southern Texas to the Muscatine area. The younger Calderon grew up in the area, married a local lady by the name of Norma, and settled into life in and around the Muscatine area. The only problem was that in order to get authentic Mexican spices, chiles, and other food stuff, he and his wife would have to drive into Chicago on a regular basis to go to Mexican food stores. One day, Calderon told his wife that they should open a store that would cater to Muscatine's Hispanic population. Nearly 30 years ago, they opened El Olmito (the little elm) which paid homage to his South Texas hometown of Olmito.
At first, the family sold food stuff and clothing before deciding to start making authentic Mexican food in a small restaurant in the back of their store. A fire about 15 years ago displaced the business and they soon moved into their present day location at the corner of 5th and Mulberry in downtown Muscatine. (see map)
El Olmito is not very big. In fact, more floor space is devoted to the handful of tables in the back of the place than the amount of food that they sell in the grocery store part of the building. It's not fancy in the least. There's no singing waiters, there's no bright tapestries on the walls, there's no alcohol served at El Olmito. It's pretty "plain Jane". But you know what? Those are usually the best places to get good authentic Mexican food.
A number of Mexican spices, sauces and other food items are on display on a double sided shelving unit in the middle of the restaurant. Along one wall were bags of spices and other items for authentic Mexican food. Sliding glass doored refrigerators were full of bottles of Mexican pop, juices and water. A freezer had a slew of different types of meat. El Olmito wasn't as big as El Mexicano in Moline, IL or El Patio in West Liberty, IA - two other Mexican grocery stores that happen to serve outstanding Mexican food (click on the links to see the entries on those two places) - but they seemed to be doing a brisk business while we were in there.
We took a seat at a table and picked up a couple menus that were on the table. While the list of food isn't extensive - tacos, tostadas, tortas, gorditas, burritos and individual platters - the types of fillings they had were rather impressive. Including carne asada (steak), ground beef, carnitas (pork), barbacoa (barbecued beef), and chicken that you'd find at any Mexican restaurant worth their salt, they also had interesting fillings such as chicharron (fried pork rinds), ceviche (fresh fish marinated in limes), buche (pork stomach), guisado (chipotle-spiced chicken), tripe (beef stomach), lengua (beef tongue) and a number of other interesting (but somewhat unappetizing - to me) selections.
My step-daughter's husband is a Mexican national and he says that the best way to find out if a restaurant is good is to just try the tacos. And I went that route. I got an al pastor (pork) taco, a steak taco, a ground beef taco and a barbacoa taco. Cindy decided to get the taco platter - three tacos with a side of refried beans and rice. She got two chicken tacos and a steak taco. For drinks, I got a bottle of water out of the cooler and Cindy got a "coquito" - a small bottle (7 ounces) of Mexican Coca-Cola.
We waited less than 10 minutes for the guy who took our order to come back with our taco plates. The first thing that I noticed was that compared to other authentic Mexican restaurants, the corn taco shells were a little bigger and were generously filled with grilled meats, pico de gallo, and fresh cilantro. Getting four tacos is generally no big problem for me. I could tell it may be a problem to finish all of the ones I ordered.
Cindy's tacos were as big as mine and half the plate was filled with an ample helping of Mexican rice and refried beans. "Oh my gosh," she exclaimed as the plate was set in front of her. "This is a lot of food."
After taking the requisite pictures of the food, I grabbed the barbacoa taco first. I squeezed out some of the chile verde sauce they had on the table (they also had a spicy pepper sauce, too) on to the taco and took a bite. The taste was well, exquisite. It was outstanding. And it was damned spicy! I couldn't tell if it was the barbacoa spices or from the green salsa. But it wasn't overpowering to the point where all you could taste was the hotness of the spice. The fresh pico de gallo and cilantro gave it a cooling taste quality. This was simply a great taco.
And the rest of the tacos were equally as good. Cindy was using the green salsa on her tacos and we were whipping through the bottle pretty quickly. I determined that either the barbacoa - on its own - was spicy, or I'd gotten used to the spiciness of the chile verde sauce on the subsequent tacos that I had. Each of the tacos had their own signature taste and I couldn't even begin to tell you which one I liked the best out of the four that I had.
Cindy, however, told me that she should have gotten two steak tacos and a chicken taco. She said she didn't care for the chicken tacos. "It's good, don't get me wrong," she was explaining to me. "But they use both dark and white meat for the chicken. I would have liked it to be all white meat." She said it was far from a deal breaker for her, but she liked the steak taco better.
After I finished - barely - my tacos, I tweeted out a picture of my plate of tacos to Brandon and Jake, the two guys behind the QC Mexican Food web site that highlights Mexican restaurants in and around the greater Quad Cities area. I said, "This is AWESOME! You've got to come to El Olmito!" And I say that to anyone reading this. It's not fancy, the decor is not ornate, and the service is pretty basic. But the food is wonderful. And there's a lot of it for a pretty good price. El Olmito is one of the best Mexican restaurants that I've ever encountered.
Wheeling and dealing on a new car with a number of dealerships recently, I ended up buying a car from a place in Muscatine. We've had to go to Muscatine a couple three times over the period of buying the car and we decided to try some of the restaurants in town while we were there. One that we noticed and wanted to try was Francesca Vitale's on 2nd St. in downtown Muscatine. (see map)
The Vitale family is sort of the royalty of Italian food in Muscatine. Reno Vitale settled in Muscatine with his family in the early 80's and opened Salvatore Vitale's - now simply known as Salvatore's - in 1985. (Click here to see an entry on Salvatore's.) Reno's sons, Salvatore - known to the locals as Sam - and Claudio helped him out in the restaurant along with his daughter, Antonia. Antonia eventually married Giovanni (John) Sgro and they now run Antonella's in downtown Davenport. (Click here to see an entry on Antonella's.)
Somewhere along the way, Sam and Claudio Vitale had differences and they went their separate ways in recent years. Claudio continues to run the day-to-day operations at Salvatore's with patriarch Reno - fast approaching 80 years of age - checking in every day, while Sam and his wife, Francesca, (pictured right) opened their own Italian restaurant down the street from Salvatore's in th spring of 2012. Sam and Francesca are also co-owners with Michelle Roos in Piazza Bella, a catering/reception facility in Muscatine, and also own The Sicilian, a small pizza and sub shop in Muscatine.
We got into Francesca Vitale's around 7:30 one evening. (Francesca Vitale's doesn't have a web site, but they do have a Facebook page. Click on the link to go there.) The place is reminiscent of Salvatore's up the street with large wooden booths and four-seater tables in the center of the dining area. A small bar area was in the rear of the place with a roaring natural gas fireplace giving the dining area a homey feel.
We were greeted by our server for the evening, Jake, who dropped off a couple menus for us. He told us of a couple specials for the evening and took our drink order. I got a cold beer while Cindy went for a glass of the house chianti.
The menu at Francesca Vitale's is a mixture of Italian entrees, steaks, seafood and pizza. We were there for the pizza that evening, although some of the pasta dishes sounded pretty good. (Cindy was especially intrigued when she saw the Pasta al Salmone - sauteed salmon with bow tie pasta covered with a vodka cream sauce.) But we ended up ordering a medium (12") sausage, pepperoni and mushroom pizza.
But before we had the pizza, Cindy determined that she needed to have a salad. The Brenda White salad caught her eye. It's a large salad that was first concocted by a former worker at Salvatore's consisting of iceberg lettuce, chopped tomatoes, chopped green peppers, mushroom slices, chopped onions, sliced black olives, pepperoni slices, parmesan cheese, fresh shredded mozzarella, with a choice of salad dressing. Cindy wanted to share the salad and Jake was nice enough to provide two separate bowls for us. Both of us got the delicious garlic dressing that the Vitale family has been serving in their respective restaurants for years.
The greens were very fresh, loads of shredded mozzarella topped the greens with the chopped and sliced veggies. The mushrooms were especially fresh and the pepperoni slices had a good spicy and salty taste. Of course, the garlic dressing was the key to the whole salad. If you like garlic, you'd love the salad dressing at Francesca Vitale's (or at Salvatore's or at Antonella's). I can guarantee that after you eat the garlic dressing, no vampires will be within a quarter mile of you.
Jake brought the pizza out after we finished up the salads. The hand-tossed crust was thin, but not cracker thin. It had some consistency and held up well with the toppings. The sausage was the chunk sausage that I like so well on a pizza, and there were generous amounts of the same pepperoni that was on the Brenda White salad, and the same thing with the chopped fresh mushrooms. Cindy doesn't care much for mushrooms, but even she said that the mushrooms on the pizza were very good. The sweet tomato pizza sauce and the mozzarella were both fresh and delicious. The pizza easily passed my "Does it taste good with a beer?" test.
We finished up the pizza and Jake began to entice us with dessert. Cindy asked if their tiramisu was made in-house and he conceded that it was not. "But our cannoli's are," he countered. Against our better judgement we ordered up a cannoli to give it a try. And it was excellent - and OH! so rich! The sugar and vanilla infused ricotta cheese filling was excellent as was the flaky pastry shell surrounding the filling. Drizzled chocolate syrup topped the cannoli. But it was so damn rich. Given a good sized salad, a 12" pizza with three toppings, and finishing off the meal with a cannoli, it was a lot of food. But it was all so very good.
I don't know if you can go wrong with the pizza at either Salvatore's, Antonella's and Francesca Vitale's. However, we felt the pizza at Francesca Vitale's may have been the best of the three. It was an outstanding pizza and simply delicious. I would be remiss in commenting on Jake's service which was also very good. He and another server were the only ones on duty that evening and they were a tad overwhelmed at times. But his friendly and playful demeanor camouflaged any stress he may have been under. Our experience at Francesca Vitale's - the food, the ambiance and the service - was all wonderful. I would have no problem driving the 35 minutes from our house for another pizza at some point.
Update - My wife and I were in Muscatine toward the end of 2016 and we went by Francesca Vitale's and found that it was closed. There is a new place in Muscatine called Sal Vitale's Pizza that - I believe - is the off-shoot of Francesca Vitale's.
Someone who Cindy works with had told her about a supper club/steakhouse in Muscatine that has been open for over 55 years by the name of the Elms. I had never heard of the place, nor had I ever known there was any other place of fine dining other than the recently shuttered Button Factory in Muscatine. Cindy had a doctor's appointment in Muscatine late one afternoon and she talked me into taking her down there and then going out to eat at the Elms directly afterward.
Since we don't get down to Muscatine all that much, I was sort of intrigued by the fact that a place like The Elms had been in business since 1958. Muscatine County Sheriff Charles Anson and his wife, Anna, were the original owners of the Elms. Anson stepped down as sheriff in 1960 to concentrate on running the business. (He did run for sheriff again in 1964, but lost the election.)
Charles Anson suffered a fatal heart attack at the Elms in early 1965 and a year later one of the 10 Anson children, Gary, came in to take over the business for his family. Gary Anson ran the Elms for 30 years before retiring and selling the business to Jeanne Staats, a family friend of the Anson's. Staats eventually sold the business to two workers at the Elms - chef Justin Arp and manager Amanda Hart - in June of 2010. Arp and Hart continue to run the business today.
The Elms is located on Grandview Ave. in southwest Muscatine (see map). Before the Highway 61 by-pass around Muscatine was opened in 1984, Grandview Ave. was the main route in and out of Muscatine on the south side of the city. It was pretty early - after 5 p.m. - when we pulled into the spacious parking lot at the Elms. We joked that we were like an old married couple having dinner that early. I jokingly wondered if they had tapioca pudding at the Elms.
There is a main dining room off to the right as you come in, along with a small room for overflow or private functions. But the dining room lights were off and I turned to my left to go into the lounge area of the Elms. A lady - I presume it was Amanda Hart - greeted us. I said, "Are you guys open for dinner?"
She replied, "Oh, sure. We just don't open the dining room until the weekends." She grabbed a couple menus for us and asked if we wanted to sit in the lounge or in a room behind the lounge. We spied a booth in the other room and planted ourselves in there. She took our drink order and said that another girl would be waiting on us.
The room we were in was sort of an interesting mix of kitsch and cheesy decor. There were some interesting pictures, posters and art work on the wall, including the venerable "Dogs Playing Poker". The picture on the wall at our booth was the famous portrait of "Kramer" from the Jerry Seinfeld Show. It was barely the holiday season and a number of Christmas lights were strung throughout the room. I wondered if they possibly had the lights up year round. On the far end of the room was an old leather couch with a coffee table in front. There appeared to be a number of games on top of and underneath the coffee table. In the corner near the couch, there were some musical instruments that looked like they were sort of haphazardly put away after a jam session. The room made me smile.
A few moments after we ordered drinks, a young lady - Brittany - showed up with our drinks and wondered if we had any questions on the menu. Cindy wanted to know if they had any specials that evening. "No, generally not through the week," Brittany said. "We usually have prime rib on the weekends, but not through the week." She gave us a few minutes to look over the menu.
I was looking at getting a steak and they had a filet, a ribeye and a strip steak on the menu. I decided on getting the strip steak - medium rare (I figured this was the type of place that probably couldn't do a rare steak correctly). With it, I got steak fries and the vegetable of the day came with the steak which were green beans. Cindy ordered a ribeye - medium - with rice and the green beans.
Cindy also ordered a salad and I wanted to try a cup of their beef barley soup. She wanted garlic, but they didn't have garlic. She ended up with, if I remember right, a creamy blue cheese dressing. Brittany brought out the salad and the cup of soup not long after we ordered our food. The beef barley soup had a nice deep brown base to it with chunks of steak embedded within. But the first bite - whoa! I use little to no salt in my diet and the beef barley soup was VERY salty. Almost too salty to eat. What ever type of bouillon they were using, it was too salty. I offered Cindy a bite and she, too, said, "Boy, that's salty!" If she says it's too salty, it's too salty.
We were the only ones in the restaurant getting food and it still took a little time for the food to come out. Good food requires good preparation I've always said, so we weren't unhappy that it took a little bit of time to come out.
When Brittany did bring the steaks out, we were ready to eat. From first glance, I could tell the meat was not the finest cuts we've had, but they were still serviceable. Cindy's ribeye looked like one of the most lean cuts of a ribeye steak I'd ever seen. It was almost void of any marbling. In fact, I had to take a closer look at it to make sure it really was a ribeye. I did dig the large steak-cut fries they had at the Elms.
My medium-rare strip steak was more medium than medium-rare. I guess I should have ordered it rare to make sure it wasn't overcooked. The thickness of the steak was more thin than what I'm accustomed to at other steakhouse/supper clubs. And while the meat had some good flavor to it, it was just a little too much overcooked for my taste.
As I said, Cindy's ribeye had little to no marbling. Her steak was actually more medium-rare than my steak was. I wondered if possibly they may have gotten ours mixed up in the kitchen as to the final temperature. She said her steak was just "OK". I had to agree. My steak was just "OK" and really nothing that got me excited in the least.
Because the steaks weren't all that thick, we could easily finish both of them. I hardly touched my green beans and had about half of the steak fries, which were very good. Cindy did like what she had of both her rice and green beans. Overall, it was a pretty average meal.
That's not to say that our meal at the Elms was bad. It was all right, but not outstanding. The staff was very friendly toward us and Brittany did a good job in taking care of us. The steaks were all right, but it was not the best - and certainly not the worst - we've ever had. For an old-style Midwestern supper club, the Elms is pretty average. If I'm in the area again and hungry, I may go back. But I probably won't make a round trip from Davenport just to go all the way there for a steak. (Picture courtesy the Elms Facebook page.)
(Update - December 2014 - We were down in Muscatine and happened to go by The Elms, or what remained of it. It was definitely closed and looked to have been closed for quite sometime.)
Our good friend, Greg Hipskind, who is the drummer for both Wicked Liz and the Bellyswirls and for Superfly Samurai, also moonlights from time to time with the Midwest touring group for Caroline's Spine. It turned out that "the Spine" was playing in Muscatine one evening earlier this fall and we made a point to go see him play. As we were looking for the spot where the show was supposed to be, we passed Salvatore's restaurant in Muscatine. Cindy said, "Hey, that's the pizza place that Toni from Antonella's (in downtown Davenport) was telling us about!"
I said, "You want to stop and get a pizza before we see the show?"
Cindy said, "Sure! Why not?"
Remo Vitale moved his family to Muscatine in the early 80's from their native Sicily and opened Salvatore Vitale's in 1985. The Vitale's had previously lived in the States until the late 70's where Remo ran an Italian restaurant in Carlinville in downstate Illinois. But his kids - sons Salvatore, Claudio, and daughter Antonia convinced their father to move back to the U.S. and the family settled in the Quad Cities area.
Salvatore (known to the locals as Sam) and Claudio Vitale, along with their wives, Francesca and Domenica, run the day to day operations with much of the menu filled with Vitale family recipes. Everything is homemade at Vitale's including the sauces and the mouthwatering desserts made daily by Francesca and Domenica. And it turns out that Toni at Antonella's in Davenport is actually Antonia Vitale-Sgro, the sister of the Vitale brothers who co-owns the restaurant with her husband, Giovanni (John).
The Vitale's also co-own and operate Piazza Bella in Muscatine, a private banquet hall that the locals use for wedding receptions, parties and meetings. I understand they now open Piazza Bella from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. for lunch on Sundays. I don't know if it's a buffet or an "order from the menu" place, but it would be interesting to try.
After initially passing Salvatore's, we went around the block and parked in front of the place (see map). It was a little before 9:00 p.m. when we walked into Salvatore's. The knotty pine walls are covered with pictures of the Vitale family and Italian scenery. There's a fire place along the north wall of the restaurant and booths are along the south wall. We found a table near the fire place along the wall and Cindy had a good view back into the small bar/kitchen area while I looked out toward the front door. A young waitress came over and gave us a couple of menus and took our drink order. I had a beer while Cindy got a glass of their house red wine.
In addition to pizza on the menu, Salvatore's also has a number of classic Italian dishesto choose from including homemade ziti, fettuccine alfredo and lasagna. I almost jumped on the lasagna from the description - homemade meat sauce with four different types of Italian cheese blended together. Another thing that caught my eye was the portobella mushroom-stuffed ravioli from the stuffed pasta portion of the menu. They take portabella mushrooms and enclosed them in homemade ravioli's and then serve them topped with their homemade white cream sauce.
But Cindy wanted pizza so we got a 12" Italian sausage and pepperoni. Cindy also wanted a salad with the garlic dressing. She was thinking that it had to be the same recipe as the garlic dressing at Antonella's. The garlic dressing at Antonella's in Davenport is addictive, but very strong. I always have to get a bite of Cindy's or I can't stand being in the same room with her because whoever eats the stuff just reeks of garlic for the next 8 hours.
They brought out Cindy's salad and it was a nice presentation with a square concave plate topped with fresh greens and chopped tomatoes, drizzled with the garlic dressing. Cindy said it was just like Antonella's garlic dressing and I had to have a bite to make sure. Yes, it certainly was close, if not the same recipe.
After a bit, the pizza came out and it smelled very good. From the first glance, it looked exactly like the pizza at Antonella's - and not that there is anything wrong with that. The pizza at Antonella's can be very good at times and it's clearly our second most favorite pizza in the Quad Cities behind Van's(which is getting to be consistently good with their pizzas, by the way). The pizza at Salvatore's featured big chunks of sausage, a lot of pepperoni with a caramelized cheese and a crispy edge to the pizza.
The first bite also told me that it was similar but not the same as Antonella's. While the crust isn't super thin as I like, it was still soft and chewy. The Italian sausage and pepperoni were both fresh and flavorful. It was a very good pizza to say the least.
After dinner, Cindy decided she was still hungry. She looked over the dessert menuto see if anything would appeal to her. She saw the cannoli's on the menu and said, "I think I want one of those." Well, I was certainly stuffed from the pizza (I had a little more than Cindy did) and I wasn't certain I could eat any of the cannoli.
But when the waitress brought out the cannoli, it was too hard to resist taking at least a couple bites. The homemade cannoli was filled to the bursting point with ricotta cheese and drizzled with copious amounts of chocolate sauce. It rivaled cannoli's I've had at upscale Italian restaurants in much larger cities.
Our little side trip to Salvatore's was definitely worth it. We'd heard of a good pizza place in Muscatine for quite sometime and it was good to know that there's a connection between Antonella's and Salvatore's. While both are very similar, there's enough of a difference to justify a return trip to Muscatine to try some of the Vitale family's homemade Italian specialties. The pizza was great, the service was very good and the cannoli was the pièce de résistance. It was a wonderful experience in every respect.