Adrie Groeneweg was 19 when he decided he was tired of leaving his hometown of Hull, Iowa, every time he wanted pizza. Armed with six pizza recipes from his mother, Groeneweg opened the first Pizza Ranch in 1981, delighting travel-weary pie lovers with dough and sauce made fresh every day. At more than 170 locations in 11 states, a bevy of signature pizzas forms the backbone of the sprawling menu, with options such as the bacon- and beef-covered Bronco, as well as the Tuscan Roma's delicate assemblage of spinach, tomatoes, and alfredo sauce. A wide variety of such specialty pies lines the buffet table, but diners who don't see their favorite combo can make a special request to the pizza chefs?who will not only bake it and add it to the buffet but also hand deliver the first slice to the table. Alongside the disks of mozzarella and pepperoni are trays of the Ranch's other specialty, crispy broasted chicken that's seasoned with a house blend of spices and then broasted so that its crunchy coating conceals ultramoist meat and the occasional winning lottery ticket.
Bookended by the rippling waters of Lake Madison and Round Lake, The Lakes Golf Course’s nine-hole layout arches over 3,128 yards of rolling, lush terrain. Conscientious clubbers will spend time at the adjacent driving range before the round to prepare swings and motivate lazy golf carts in time for the first hole, a par 5, 533-yard monolith rated the course’s hardest hole. Throughout the layout, gentle elevation changes create the occasional tricky lie and give way to splendid views of the lakes and the surrounding countryside topography. Those looking to extend their golf outing to an overnight trip or romantic getaway with their sand-wedge can hunker down in the rustic but modern accommodations at The Lodge, or pitch a tent made of polo shirts at the Camping Grounds.
Course at a Glance:
An unwavering devotion to freshness permeates Tomacelli's kitchen, where pizza chefs adorn their daily made dough with house-made sauce, all-natural cheese, and more than 50 market-fresh toppings. Millions of possible build-your-own combinations complement 23 creations brainstormed by a husband-and-wife team, from a ham-and-pineapple-studded hawaiian pie to the seafood supreme's maritime medley of fresh ingredients. Not content to recline on the edible laurels of their circular masterworks, the Tomacelli's kitchen team rounds out the menu with piping-hot pasta dishes and fresh salads.
At County Fair Fun Company, kids excitedly tackle action-filled games and rides, then safely ricochet off the inflated surfaces of Technicolor bounce houses. A Dora the Explorer?themed inflatable packs slides, tropical trees, and huts into a cushy, educational wonderland, and inside a bounce castle, little ones can pretend they're inside one of King Arthur?s legendary bounce castles. Setting foot on solid ground, tykes make their way to the bumper-car arena, where circular vehicles offer easy steering, each crash eliciting shouts and laughter from drivers. Between bumper demolition derbies, children wander the labyrinthine tunnels and slides of County Fair's padded play dome, navigating tricky rolling platforms and shaky rope bridges to find a safe spot to exchange stock tips. Video games exercise hand-eye coordination for both kids and grownups, who can also lounge in County Fair's beer garden and sip on potent potables for an additional cost.
Visitors can refuel after leisurely pursuits at the adjacent Pizza Ranch pizza buffet, which often showcases options such as the bacon- and beef-covered Bronco and the Tuscan Roma's medley of spinach, tomatoes, and alfredo sauce. Alongside the pies of mozzarella and pepperoni are trays of the Ranch's other specialty, crispy broasted chicken seasoned with a house blend of spices and broasted.
Pat and Marge McClanahan have always been coffee lovers; it was one of the mutual interests that they discovered on their first date. After they got married, they began experimenting with roasting their own beans. From an inauspicious start in an air corn popper, they eventually began their own company, Covenant Roasters, to help pay for their seminary school.
They didn’t stop there, though. When the church they lead, Common Ground Worship Center, moved into what used to be a Christian coffee shop, they felt it was fate: they had finally found a space for the café they’d long dreamed of founding. Today, they serve lattes, hot and cold-pressed coffee, and blended drinks in the space, which they’ve dubbed Cup and a Prayer. The beans they brew are still roasted by Marge herself in small batches several times a week, resulting in coffees that are more nuanced and complex than many cookie-cutter brews. Alongside the café's libations, patrons can also peruse made-from-scratch pastries that include inside-out cinnamon rolls and snickerdoodle muffins.
Zaroty's sign proudly proclaims the small, casual spot as a source of Mediterranean street food—and true to form, the menu features pitas stuffed with hummus, baba ghanoush, chicken shawerma, and house-made falafel. But the folks in the kitchen don't limit themselves to a single source of inspiration. To keep up with the eclectic, internationally inspired core menu dishes, the team prepares appetizers such as hummus with pita, chips and salsa, and cheesebread—another name for cash on bread. They top Taste of Mexico pizzas with taco meat and veggies and crown Down Home barbecue pizzas with chicken and bacon, all atop dough made from scratch. Inspired by the calzone-like Italian panzarotti, their signature pockets emerge golden-brown from the oven, stuffed with combinations from Hawaiian ham-and-pineapple to steak and barbecue sauce.
Zaroty also offers a catering menu, which includes boxed sandwich lunches to keep hungry businesspeople from eating important handouts during meetings. The catering menu also catalogs dinner buffets such as roasted pork tenderloin and glazed ham.