GALESVILLE — Longtime friends Rob Grover and Greg Roskos aim to treat customers at their new rural Galesville business to a taste of outdoor scenery and freshly made pizza.
They opened Winghaven Pizza Farm on Sept. 10 at N18057 Grover Lane, in Grover Valley about five miles west of Galesville. It’s on the farm where Grover was raised and where he still lives.
Customers can sit at picnic tables that accommodate 70 to 80 people, but also are encouraged to bring their own chairs and tables.
They also are encouraged to car pool, and are asked to not bring in other food or drinks. And for liability reasons, they’re asked not to bring pets except for service animals, such as a Seeing Eye dog.
“People are welcome to bring their own games,” Grover said.
“We want people to kind of lounge and enjoy the outdoors,” he said. “We’re surrounded by trees. It’ll be beautiful when the leaves are turning color.”
Next to the Grover family’s old, weathered barn, the pizza farm has a covered area full of farm antiques and memorabilia from the Galesville area. “Because of our covered area, even though we are outside, we plan to be open rain or shine,” Grover said.
The pizza farm is open from 4 to 9 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and noon to 5 p.m. Sundays for the rest of the season. Roskos and Grover also are willing to open on other days or earlier for private events.
“We hope to be open through October and maybe the first weekend of November,” Grover said of the seasonal business. He and Roskos plan to reopen in May and to have a grand opening in the spring.
“Next year we may expand our hours to include Thursdays and we might be open earlier on Saturdays to try to catch the lunch crowd,” Grover said.
Roskos and Grover had hoped to open in June, but there were delays in the manufacturing of the food trailer where they prepare and bake their pizzas.
There are two stone-fired ovens in the trailer; one bakes two pizzas at a time and the other bakes one pizza at a time.
The pizza farm serves up 14-inch thin-crust pizzas, which are baked at 650 degrees Fahrenheit. At that temperature, they take slightly less than three minutes to bake, Roskos said.
“It gives the pizza a really nice char on the bottom of the crust,” Roskos said of baking in a stone-fired oven at that temperature.
The two owners use locally sourced ingredients as much as possible for their pizzas, and also serve regional beer and wine. There’s also soda (including Spring Grove Soda Pop), lemonade and bottled water.
Snacks also are available, including pretzels, ice cream sandwiches and Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery cheese curds. And Winghaven Pizza Farm T-shirts and other merchandise probably will be available soon.
The eight pizza varieties at the farm include cheese, pepperoni, sausage, Local Classic, Veggie Lover, Meat Lover, chicken bacon ranch and Hawaiian.
Roskos and Grover predict Local Classic will be their most popular pizza. It’s made with pepperoni, sausage, mushrooms, green peppers, cheese, basil-infused sauce and the pizza farm’s own seasoning.
The two owners make their own garlic butter crust.
“We’re both passionate about food” and did a lot of experimenting when coming up with the pizza recipes, Grocer said. “It’s a thinner crust. We did that because we wanted the toppings to really shine.”
The two men developed their recipes with the help of friends and relatives who served as taste testers.
“Greg has been the force behind developing our recipes,” Grover said. Roskos learned how to cook from his late mother, Patrice Hamerski, who loved to make Italian food.
“But we’ve both always been into food,” Roskos said of himself and Grover.
Grover said he and Roskos use local ingredients because “Local is important. We want to support local businesses.”
Besides food and beverages, Winghaven Pizza Farm will offer live entertainment as often as possible, Roskos and Grover said. They created what they call the Winghaven Main Stage, using one of the farm’s old apple wagons.
The farm, which was established by Grover’s family in 1852, at one time was an apple orchard. “Every generation on this farm has started something new here,” said Grover, who is part of the fifth generation. “I wanted to do something new.”
Visitors drive past another nearby apple orchard — Ferguson’s Morningside Orchard, also on Grover Lane — to get to the pizza farm. Having an apple orchard and a pizza farm so close together will benefit both businesses, Grover predicted.