The thousand dollar pizza was unveiled a couple of years ago in March 2007 by Nino Selimaj, owner of Nino’s Belissima Restaurant on Second Avenue in New York.Nino, who owns 5 other restaurants/pizzerias in New York, only offered this extravagant pizza at this one location and claimed it was not a publicity stunt. Having watched a Food Channel TV show about it, there is little doubt in my mind that it was.
The thin crust pizza , which had to be ordered 24 hours in advance , was made to order thusly : A 12-inch pie shell was slathered with creme fraiche , then dotted with 4 different kinds of caviar, thin slices of lobster tail and sprinkled with chives. I must admit it looked quite pretty. The different colored mounds of caviar set off by the white of the creme fraiche and the lobster tail ,contrasted nicely with the green of the chives.
The pizza was served cold, naturally, as caviar does not stand up to heat.The TV show showed one of these pizzas being prepared and served to a couple of customers at the restaurant . They pronounced it delicious but, pardon my skepticism, I don’t see how it could have been. I’m inclined to agree with the critic who said that it must taste very much like a bagel with cream cheese and lox.
To begin with, I don’t see how this creation even qualifies as a pizza. When I think of a pizza, I think of a piping hot pie covered with tomato sauce and melting mozzarella cheese, with some combination of toppings such as pepperoni or sausage , green peppers, onions etc. but definitely not including caviar or lobster tail. The pizza served at Nino’s did not have either tomato sauce or cheese and it was served cold . Cold !! As for the toppings , they were obviously chosen because they were costly.
According to Nino, the pie cost about $ 750 to make . Most of that must have been because of the caviar. To my mind, caviar should be eaten with blinis or toast points . It doesn’t belong on a pizza.
This whole episode reminds me of the time Craig Claiborne and a friend ( Pierre Franey ?) indulged themselves with a $ 4,000 meal at a Parisian restaurant , Chez Denis . I forget the exact circumstances but American Express footed the bill .This was about 30 years ago , so in todays’ dollars the cost would be about $ 12,000. While it was a luxe multicourse meal , most of the cost of the meal was due to the wines that accompanied it.
The difference between that meal and this pizza was that the meal was acknowledged to be a one time occurrence and a publicity stunt. Even so, it was roundly criticised for it’s wastefulness and decadence. The same criticism could be leveled at the thousand dollar pizza even though it was created back when times were good.Today, when times are hard and getting worse, it appears positively obscene.