Adam Cullen used to travel a lot as a musician. With four kids at home, he’s given that up and is focusing on his other form of artistic expression: pizza.
“Pizza has always been a passion. Some people paint, or whatever they might do as an outlet,” he said. “When you’re an artist, you have a canvas. My dough is my canvas, my sauces, my toppings are my paint. Everybody has to eat, but what we put into our body doesn’t have to be just nourishment. We can give ourselves an experience with flavor and texture, just like you would at a gallery.”
He opened Stone Thrown Pizzeria, tucked inside BurgerFiend on Center Point Road, on Oct. 2. The space previously housed PizzaFiend, a pizza restaurant owned by BurgerFiend owners Ali and Omar Igram, but they decided it was time to focus on the burger side of their business, Cullen said. He saw an advertisement for the space and decided the time was right to open his own business.
Cullen, who grew up in Cedar Rapids, said he has worked for other pizza restaurants for 20 years, so he felt ready to take the next step.
“Pizza has always been there for me,” he said.
He said his love of pizza has been a lifelong affair.
“It started when I was a kid. It was the Ninja Turtles that made me love pizza,” he said.
At Stone Thrown Pizza, the crust is made with double zero flour, the standard for traditional Neapolitan pizza crusts, which Cullen said works well with their pizza oven, which cooks pies at around 700 degrees.
“Many doughs will burn at that temperature,” he said.
The toppings are applied with more traditional American sensibilities, thickly spread over the base in a New York-style pie. Customers can customize their own pizza or chose a signature pizza like meat lovers, Hawaiian, veggie or taco. They also serve sides, including breadsticks, garlic cheese strips and cinnamon strips.
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The oven uses gas to cook the pizzas, but can also function as a wood-burning oven. They use hickory wood in the oven in the mornings to roast the vegetables and sauce, which is made in-house. Fresh basil and other herbs used in the sauce grow in pots in the window.
For meat toppings, Stone Thrown Pizzeria uses only turkey or beef — no pork. That carries over from when the space was PizzaFiend and was a stipulation of the owners, Cullen said, who had customers who knew they could expect that at the restaurant.
“We’re all halal and kosher,” Cullen said. “I don’t want to exclude anybody.”
The pizzeria offers dining in or carry out and partners with BiteSquad for delivery. Because of the high cooking temperature, pizzas can be cooked as quickly as three minutes.
He said he isn’t fazed that another pizza restaurant closed in the space. It was the right choice to start his own business, he said.
“When you’ve worked for bigger companies like I have, multimillion dollar companies that don’t care about you — it’s the easiest decision in the world. It was for the freedom of being your own boss, but also the opportunity to be a better boss for my employees.”
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If you go
• What: Stone Thrown Pizzeria
• Where: Inside BurgerFiend, 3980 Center Point Rd. NE, Cedar Rapids
• Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday to Saturday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday
• Details: (319) 200-2056, stonethrown pizzeria.com