A Cedar Rapids family has turned its love of hosting backyard pizza parties into NewBo City Market’s newest eatery.
Aroma Artisan Pizza opened Aug. 3, replacing Maggie’s Farm Wood-Fired Pizza, which is moving to University Heights.
When Carol Elliott heard Maggie’s was leaving, she asked about the space, and now she and her husband, Craig, and sons Chris, 21, and Ben, 19, have turned their hobby into a business.
The family started on their pizza journey after trying to recreate the pies they’ve tasted while traveling.
“We’ve always been on that quest for the perfect pizza,” Carol Elliott said. “You want to have a crust that’s crisp but isn’t stiff.”
Their home oven couldn’t get hot enough to bake the crust they were looking for, so the Elliotts decided to build a wood-fired brick oven in their backyard. For more than a year, they’ve hosted regular pizza nights for friends and neighbors, using the occasions to perfect their dough, sauce and topping recipes.
Their market presence feels like an extension of that backyard community, Carol Elliott said.
“Pizza brings people together. You can’t go wrong with that,” she said.
Before leaving for University Heights, Maggie’s staff trained them, and, for now, they are closely following Maggie’s menu. Carol Elliott plans to branch out with pizza topping combinations of her own later and is considering adding dessert and breakfast pizzas.
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“There are so many interesting things you can do with pizza that are so delightful,” she said.
Ben Elliott said transitioning from making pizzas for a few friends to hundreds of customers has been a challenge, but rewarding.
“We knew we really loved it, but there are so many things to think about behind the scenes to get ready for opening. But it’s been fun,” he said.
The entire family has been volunteering at the market since it opened. A Master Gardener, Carol Elliott does gardening work there, and her family helped build the raised garden beds in front of the building. Her sons both completed Eagle Scout projects there, building accessible paths between garden beds and making monarch seed balls for RAGBRAI riders.
“There’s just this wonderful vibe here. NewBo brings people together in organic ways. We like what’s happening in our community,” Carol Elliott said.
WHAT: Aroma Artisan Pizza
WHERE: NewBo City Market, 1100 Third St. SE, Cedar Rapids
WHEN: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday; 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday
DETAILS: Facebook.com/aromaartisanpizza or email firstname.lastname@example.org