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:
Local lamb chops, brushed with fresh rosemary and olive oil and grilled. Short-rib osso buco, cooked sous-vide for 36 hours. Pork tenderloin smoked with cherry wood, awash in maple-chipotle glaze. Bros Brasserie Americano's menu is filled with sophisticated, elegantly plated dishes, all with recommended pairings. But it's not wine the staff suggests to pair with the New American cuisine—it's beer. A row of 16 tap handles is constantly changing as the staff rotates in all-American craft beers such as Widmer 924 Milk Stout, Crow Peak Brewing Company's 11th Hour IPA, and New Belgium Brewing's Peach Porch Lounger. Bottled brews round out the extensive collection.
Diners can have the chefs steam a pound of mussels in their choice of any of the tap beers. They can also belly up to the bar for eats that are more casual but no less carefully crafted. The chefs grind their own Angus beef to form into 8.5-ounce patties for their Bro burger, which they pile with bacon, aged cheddar, and maple-chipotle barbecue sauce.
More than 40 years ago, Harry J. Hoenselaar chose individual hams, cured them in his secret marinade, and smoked them over hardwood chips before offsetting the earthy flavor with a crisp, sweet glaze. To this day, the staff still makes the signature bone-in hams one at a time and glazes them in the shop. In addition to the eponymous victuals, the ham denizens turn their braising prowess on similarly delightful platter toppers, including turkey and barbecued pork.
The hammery's kitchens also whip up classic side dishes and desserts, such as the sweet-potato souffl?. For less formal feasting, party trays and packed lunch boxes fuel business meetings, backyard grad parties, and lengthy end-zone celebrations.
In 1958, two brothers from Texas opened the first Pizza Inn, where they began assembling their signature pizzas out of cracker-thin crusts, tangy sauce, and generous piles of cheese. By 1994, the small, family-run restaurant grew into a sought-after franchise that was named No. 1 Pizza Chain in the United States by Restaurants & Institutions Magazine, as described on Pizza Inn’s About Us page. With the help of the world’s largest rolling pin, Pizza Inn’s doughy empire has stretched across more than 310 national and international locations. Although they still rely on time-honored pizza-making traditions that have lasted more than 50 years, the franchise’s chefs still make bold strides in new recipes, as evident in their bacon-cheeseburger pizza with beef, lean bacon, mustard, and pickles.
Country Meats' skilled butchers cull from a colossal cache of fresh, top-quality meats, slicing custom cuts of beef, wild game, buffalo, and pork. The knowledgeable staff slings more than 30 brat flavors, including pineapple, green onion, and skinless varieties infused with cheese. Whole chickens deliver protein alongside their red-meat brethren, which include gourmet burger patties and freshly cut sirloin and filet-mignon steaks. Summer sausages artfully complement the shop's smattering of cheeses, and edible accouterments such as farm-fresh eggs and potato salad round out meaty meals. Every Saturday, customers can voyage to Country Meats to nosh on house-made samples, and during hunting season, the shop's hours expand to accommodate wild-game processing and bouts of camouflage Hide-and-Seek.