There’s nothing more “Iowa” than eating in the middle of a cornfield. At Geyer’s Oven in Oxford, Iowa (1259 Rohret Rd SW), cows passively watched me enjoy delicious wood-fired pizza made with fresh ingredients such as summer squash and roasted beets. Visitors brought picnic blankets, dogs, wine and other wonderful things to enjoy along with the summer evening outside on the farm.
Although the farm is located in what any non-Midwesterner would call “the middle of nowhere,” it’s only about 20 minutes west of Iowa City. Even the drive itself, a veritable Grant Wood painting of rolling cornfields, was enjoyable. In case Geyer’s wasn’t scenic enough, the farm also grows and sells beautiful flowers. Visitors squeeze their folding chairs between rows of tulips and bend down to pet the lamb’s ear (a shockingly soft flower) between bites of pizza.
Geyer’s has outsmarted the normal restaurant protocol by eliminating ordering. The staff continually makes all six types of pizza, and visitors may take any kind and however much they want. A $12 flat fee is collected at the door, and you’re good to go. The large line for pizza moved swiftly, making it the happiest line of people that I have ever seen. They also have a sign announcing discounts for children and “small eaters.” Bringing my own wine helped make the whole outing very affordable. For the big spenders, ice cream bars are an additional $1.
My favorite pizza was the summer squash with olive and feta, which was pleasantly drenched in olive oil. The beet and walnut pizza was also solid, and as a bonus it allowed me to put on airs of healthiness while eating four slices of pizza.
Pizza is served on the farm only on the second and fourth Thursday of each month, May through September. In true if-you-build-a-wood-fire-oven-they-will-come fashion, about 275 people were there, with kids comprising about a third of the visitors. Young professionals attended, grandparents attended and even a woman in a bridal gown with bridesmaids attended. When I inquired, she said she did not actually get married, but just wanted to take advantage of the scenery for a fun photo shoot.
The food at Geyer’s Oven is quite good, but it’s not the main attraction. I asked a fellow visitor what they liked most, and they said the “Iowa niceness of it all.” It was easy to chat with other visitors (especially when sharing a picnic bench) which allowed me to hold a spontaneous interview with a 5-year-old who claimed to have had eight slices of pizza. He recommends you come try the pepperoni.
This article was originally published in Little Village issue 248.