WHEN it comes to pizza, it’s hard to find someone more passionate than Mark Burrell. He’s even travelling more than 12,000 kilometres to Las Vegas to feed his appetite for discovering the most unusual and newest trends in pizza.
Burrell opened Adam’s Ribs & Pizza, on Glebe Road, Adamstown, last year and has since gained a loyal crowd of pizza lovers who tuck into his fresh, handmade range. Originally from Newcastle, Burrell spent time working in a pizza franchise in Queensland where his love for pizza and getting creative with toppings grew.
He returned to Newcastle and soon found the Adamstown site for his venture, which is called Adam’s Ribs & Pizza, partly in a nod to the suburb, partly in a nod to Adam’s rib being given to Eve and also inspired by an episode of the TV series Mash, which featured a rib joint named Adam’s.
But it was important to Burrell to make his pizza place stand out from the others in town. He wanted to produce healthy pizzas, low on oil, made with fresh ingredients.
‘‘I wanted to create a pizzeria that was totally different from other pizza places. I make all of my bases from scratch and use all fresh ingredients – I won’t compromise,’’ he said.
‘‘I have a really different menu from most of the other pizza joints in town, with more than 20 pizzas. I make the rib sauces from scratch and even spent 12 months developing them. I hope to be able to bottle and sell them soon.’’
Adam’s menu also includes a range of cheesy calzone breads, pastas, baby-back ribs and buffalo wings. There is also a monthly pizza special – this month it’s buffalo chicken with bacon and ranch dressing – in addition to the range of traditional, seafood and deluxe pizzas.
Burrell’s pick of the bunch is The L.R.B, which combines lychee with roma tomato, blue cheese and mozzarella before being topped off with capers and baby spinach.
‘‘I used to dream of having my own pizza shop. In the franchise I struggled because I had to stick solidly to what was on the menu. I used to go into the kitchen and come up with inventions like The L.R.B but couldn’t sell them to people,’’ he explained.
Burrell is planning on taking The L.R.B to the World Pizza Expo next year to take on the best pizzas in the world. He’s also heading to the 2012 Las Vegas convention next month to learn more about pizzas and ribs, rather than throwing his hat – or pizza – into the ring for the competitive elements of the expo.
In its 29th year, the event is said to be the largest and longest-running trade show serving the pizza industry, offering thousands of pizzeria owners inspiration for new products and services as well as seminars, panel discussions and live cooking and baking demonstrations.
When it comes to washing down the pizza, Adam’s Ribs & Pizza also does nothing by the book. There is Mexican Coke in traditional thick glass bottles (but get in quick because it sells like wildfire: ‘‘I had two cases and it sold out in two days’’), a number of varieties of Dr Pepper, A&W Root Beer and even bottles of Snapple. He’s also become a distributor for Jones Soda Co, an American soda range made from pure cane sugar. Choose from flavours such as Cream Soda, Orange & Cream, Grape and Twisted Lime.
‘‘Many of these drinks were never sold in Newcastle before I imported them,’’ Burrell said. ‘‘We have the best range of US soft drinks in Newcastle ... it’s my little indulgence.’’
Adam’s also stocks Crows Nest Soft Drinks and famous and much-loved Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream, though he’s also on the hunt for locally-produced gelato or ice-cream.
One of Burrell’s other indulgences is music. Music posters adorn the walls of the pizzeria featuring acts as diverse as TOOL and Prince. This month there is also a huge KISS letterbox under the counter, part of a competition to win two tickets to the KISS and Motley Crue show at Sydney’s Allphones Arena on March 9 (spend $50 before March 1 to go in the draw).
Adam’s Ribs & Pizza is at 548a Glebe Road, Adamstown. Visit ilovepizza.com.au or call 4950 9099.