Ameema Ahmed

When Michael Dahling bought the empty building that would become Old County Inn, he wasn’t really sure what he was going to do with it. And then, thanks to a “screaming deal,” he bought a wood-burning pizza oven that transformed the space — and his vision for it. “That’s the first thing I put in there — an oven in an empty building — and I kind of built the whole place around it,” Dahling recalls.

Today, Old County Inn, which opened in 2016, is a hotspot in the Mogollon Rim community of Pine. And Dahling (pictured), a Culinary Institute of America graduate who spent years working in restaurants and the corporate food business, has the restaurant thriving thanks to its small-town feel and delicious scratch-made food.

Wood-fired pizzas — including the signature meat pie, which features house-made sausage and bacon, along with smoked pepperoni — are at the heart of the menu. But the appetizers are the hidden gems, Dahling says. One example is the green chile beer cheese, which customers say is addictive. The signature dip, which is served with hand-rolled breadsticks, is made with Grand Canyon Brewing Co. beer infused with a variety of cheeses and cooked down with New Mexican green chiles. Another popular appetizer features hand-breaded chicken tenders served with house-made pickles, hot sauce and a buttermilk herb dressing. 

And even though wings are a common menu item at pizza joints, the ones at Old County Inn are different. “We do double-jointed wings,” Dahling says. “We brine our wings in pickle juice — we do that for two days and then roast them in the wood-burning oven, fry them and toss them in our house-made hot sauce, and then we grill them. So, it’s kind of a process.”

But what sets the menu apart from other pizza places is that most dishes at Old County Inn are made from scratch — in fact, Dahling says, there isn’t even a freezer at the restaurant, because he prefers to use fresh ingredients and make everything by hand. “We grind our own meat and make our own bacon every day; we grate our cheese and make our own dough,” he says.

While the food is the star of the show, the atmosphere makes the experience even more memorable. A large patio allows customers to take in views of Rim Country while enjoying live music on the weekends, and the Taproom, next door, is a popular spot to gather and enjoy craft beer, wine and a large selection of bourbon, scotch and whiskey. “You’ll just find people hanging out and talking at the bar,” Dahling says. “It gives people something to look forward to.”

Business Information

Old County Inn
3502 State Route 87
Pine, AZ
United States