According to Greg Mohr of Roots Handmade Pizza, here's what goes into a "Quad-Cities style" pizza:
Malt crust: The house-made pizza dough contains a heavy dose of dark-roasted brewer's malt that gives the crust a darker appearance and a taste that's nuttier and slightly sweeter than others. There's also a unique Quad-City spice mix that makes its way into the dough.
Hand-tossed: The pizza dough does not go through a machine or sheeter. It's hand-stretched first and then hand-tossed until it's about a quarter-inch thin, with a slightly elevated lip around the entire round. The end result is a cooked crust that is crusty on the outside and chewy and airy inside.
Pizza sauce: Because of a unique mix of spices, Quad-Cities style sauce is thin and smooth and comes off as slightly spicy. A very thin layer of sauce is applied to all Quad-Cities style pizzas at Roots.
Top-quality ingredients: Roots uses fresh Wisconsin mozzarella cheese that has a particular fat and moisture content, and it's applied liberally to every pizza. This cheese will not lend itself to greasy, oil-slicked pizza.
Sausage: The sausage is a lean and nongreasy pork 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.
Layered: Another Quad-Cities style signature is that almost all of the toppings, including the sausage and other fresh toppings, go under the cheese.
Scissor-cut strips: Per a tradition that began 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. After it is cut, Quad-Cities style pizza, regardless of size, contains four "corner strips" that are mostly crust. These strips are often the first ones grabbed and eaten by people who are true Quad-City pizza fans.
A special pizza oven: Roots, like almost every Quad-City pizza place, uses a Roto-Flex gas oven to cook its pizzas. The large Roto-Flex at Roots can cook about 28 large pizzas at a time via its four clockwise-rotating decks. The average cooking time is about 12 minutes.