Tony Roma opened his first rib joint in 1972, a venture that became wildly successful after Dallas Cowboys owner Clint Murchison, Jr. tasted the ribs and slaw and declared them the best he'd ever had. With his financial know-how and weighty pocket book, he helped Tony Roma's grow into the international brand it is today. Franchises have spread across the States like a wave of barbecue sauce, seeping over borders and staining the shirtfronts of thousands of satisfied diners.
Today, chefs still diligently emulate Tony's original ribs recipes, grilling up signature steaks and fresh-caught seafood combos enhanced with sides and garnishes of seasonal ingredients. In addition to the restaurant's signature meaty entrees, the staff whips up oven-baked desserts such as the golden-apple tarts and redskin potatoes hand- mashed by distinguished martial artists.
On the shore of Lake Michigan, tucked among the towering pines, a quaint building that would be at home in a fairy tale exudes cozy Midwestern hospitality with walls made of fieldstone, log beams that arch under a peaked roof, and a fireplace that crackles in the winter. In Donny's Glidden Lodge’s welcoming setting, guests tuck into Black Angus filet mignon, Australian cold-water lobster, and Iowan pork chops. Nightly specials of prime rib and just-caught lake perch join housemade soup, fresh bread, and salads made with mixed greens that diners grab from the salad bar.
During summery days, guests lounge on a patio with views of Lake Michigan that let them watch boats playing real-life games of Battleship. When the air carries a chill, tipplers can warm themselves with libations at the bar.
The pizza makers at Palio's Cafe crown regular, whole-wheat, and gluten-free crusts with fresh vegetables, preservative-free sauce, and roasted chicken. Chefs take the burden of putting together the best toppings with 17 specialty pizzas that pair gourmet ingredients such as artichoke hearts, roasted chicken, and fresh basil pesto. Ovens create bubbling pies, stuffed calzones, baked ziti, and italian sub sandwiches that servers carry through both chic, cozy locations. Leather-lined booths and flat-screen televisions keep diners comfortable and entertained while they enjoy Palio's BYOB policy and sip wine or Capri Sun pouches brought from home.
Overlooking the Fox River, The River Room Restaurant appeases appetites of all sizes with a mouthwatering menu of succulent delicacies. Inaugurate a dinner with friends, coworkers, or a selection of porcelain dolls with the chilled shrimp martini, which drenches skinny-dipping crustaceans in a horseradish cocktail sauce ($7). The potato-crusted cod ($14) halts hunger with a flavorful barricade, and the chicken 'n' bacon alfredo ($14) entrances taste buds with the hearty harmony of an edible Sonny & Cher concert.
Through the doors of Doxbee's banquet hall, a spread of plump carved hams, creamy mashed potatoes, and intricate homemade desserts await. On Wednesdays, the buffet is stocked with casual, homestyle eats like spaghetti and build-your-own tacos with fresh tortillas and meats. Come Friday, crispy deep-fried haddock, walleye, and catfish share space with barbecue ribs and beef roast. Sunday’s bounty is a brunch feast of warm pancakes and french toast paired with cheesy hash browns and sizzling sausages. Chefs position themselves behind a cooking station, crafting fresh omelets and belgian waffles according to customer requests.
The hall also plays host to weddings, meetings, and special events, encouraging guests to chat over the elegant white-clothed tables as servers bring out fine dinner platters. Having worked in the special-events industry for years, the banquet hall's knowledgeable staff can recommend photographers, suggest DJs, and even pinpoint the town's five handsomest cake designers.
At The Cork Restaurant & Pub, the chefs cook shepherd's pie and Guinness stew as the bartenders pour Irish whiskeys and draft beers. But The Cork is more than an Irish pub. The cooks broast pork chops, barbecue baby back ribs, and grill sirloin and new york strip steaks, which can be ordered with extras, such as hollandaise sauce, asparagus, and imitation crab. They offer fresh seafood, too, including lobster tails, crab legs and claws, and scallops saut?ed in garlic butter. And on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, The Cork serves a 16-ounce prime rib fit for a Paul Bunyan tapas plate.