Travel Iowa, the official tourism effort of the State of Iowa, recently put out a list of 99 restaurants to try. They selected one restaurant in 99 counties and made a printable checklist for those who consider themselves connoisseurs of good Iowa cuisine. I've looked through the list and found choices I certainly agreed with and others less so. However, it's a good list to keep in your glove box if you are down for some spring and summer adventures.
Since I was in Nashua checking out The Little Brown Church in the Vale and it was getting close to dinner time, I thought I would make the short ten mile drive to Charles City to find some food. I checked out the Travel Iowa list and they recommended, for Floyd County, The Pub on the Cedar. Upon pulling up to the restaurant, I found people waiting outside and a very full parking lot. It was the night before a snowstorm was predicted and I think a lot of locals wanted to get out of the house on a Saturday night before hunkering down again.
I opted to look elsewhere and a sign across the parking lot immediately caught my eye: Cedar River Pizza Co.
I walked over and decided I would give it a shot. Upon entering and going to the counter, I soon discovered that it was only a deliver/carry out business. However, it all looked tasty, the workers were kind, and I thought I would give it a shot any way. It turns out, that was a good decision.
Like the Pub on the Cedar, this business is just feet from the river and very near the main downtown commercial district of town. In fact, after ordering my pizza and knowing that it would be about a 15 or 20 minute wait, I took a stroll through the downtown area and noticed many business facade projects in the works.
I also walked down to the river, which is always quite beautiful (when it is not flooding like 2008!).
Back to the restaurant, I waited a few minutes until my pizza was cooked. I do not know how long the company has been in business, but several other patrons came in to pick up orders when I was there and I saw a delivery guy running to and from. Obviously, they have a good fan base and clientele.
In their vestibule, they displayed a plan to actually expand the business to have some dining seating available. That was one of the reasons I decided to give them a shot - I wanted to support a business who was looking to make expand, perhaps hire more people, and make an investment in their community.
It appears they want to turn the area (pictured below) that looks like a garage into a place where individuals or small parties can dine.
Elsewhere inside the waiting area, they had some other fun pizza-centric decor.
I am always a fan of clever marketing, such as this green "legalize marinara" t-shirt.
The menu is very straight-forward. You essentially pick the size of pie you want and add the quantity ingredients. Each additional ingredient was another $1. In a sense, every pizza can be customized and the number of combinations is near limitless. I ordered a medium two topping (sausage and pepperoni) and it was quite delicious...but a lot of food. I should have gone with the small.
Since I was taking it to go, they sealed it in this bag, presumably to keep the heat locked in, and send me on the way.
I ripped open the bag to eat it when I got on the road. I had to wait awhile for it to cool down but it's a quality pizza. They encourage you to let them know if you like it more well done or less so, if you like lots of sauce or less, and other customized aspects so that you are getting an end product that matches your expectations. I can always appreciate some attention to detail.
Obviously, my visit to Charles City was quite short and there is lots more to see and do. I hope to return to check out other businesses and restaurants and to see other community attractions. However, for a 2+ hour drive back to West Des Moines, the pizza I bought at Cedar River Pizza Co. was a very good choice. I'd recommend. Be sure to give them a follow on Facebook.
As always, I welcome your suggestions of other places to visit - whether in Floyd County or any of the other 98 counties in Iowa. Please drop me a note through my website.