Pizza is normally inexpensive and easy to order, this pie, however, is the opposite
A pizza dubbed Pizza Louis XIII and created by master pizza chef Renato Viola is currently the most expensive pizza in the world. For $12,000, Viola will personally come to your home, along with a chef and a sommelier, to prepare his pizza. The crust —made with organic Arabian flour — is ready 72 hours in advance and shaped into a roughly 8-inch in diameter pizza topped with three types of caviar, lobster, and seven types of cheese —wait a minute: cheese with my caviar? Who cares about that when you’re eating it all and with his exclusive “limited edition” dishes and cutlery! While the Pizza Louis XIII, named for the French King who brought the world Versailles, is among several pizzas that vie for “Most Expensive.” Think pizza with 24-karat gold leaf flakes, Kobe beef, truffles, and diamonds —yes, diamonds—for a “Lover’s Pizza.” Once offered at the now-closed Favitta’s Family Pizzeria in Rochester, New York, the purchase included an engagement ring to pop the question. And just when you thought you didn’t know what to do with all that cash you have in your sock drawer, we curated a list of uber-quality everyday pizza toppings for you —tomatoes, cheese, meat, olives, mushrooms— that might set you back a few extra bucks or a thousand, but we’re damn sure they are worth it —and you’ll want to eat them too!
ANTIMO CAPUTO OO FLOUR:
Make your crust with this top-of-the-line flour beloved by chefs for its low gluten content, giving your homemade pizza dough a chewy, pizzeria-quality crust. It runs about eight bucks for a two-pound bag, which is only two dollars more than the average price of all-purpose flour.
BIANCO DI NAPOLI WHOLE PEELED TOMATOES:
A 28-ounce can of these organically grown tomatoes from California costs nearly twice that of their imported San Marzano Italian counterparts. They are prized among foodies for their fresh tomato flavor, the balance of sweetness and acidity, and color, giving you peak season looking and tasting pizza sauce.
MOVE OVER MOZZARELLA:
Experiment with imported Italian cheeses other than mozzarella di bufala to make your pizza special: Try Taleggio, a rich, soft cow’s milk cheese with a strong aroma, and Gorgonzola, one of the world’s oldest blue cheeses with a flavor that ranges from mildly nutty to spicy, or Stracchino, a soft, creamy, and mildly tangy cheese whose taste is more complex than mozzarella when melted. Each one rings up between $10 and $20 per pound. Skip the tomato sauce, make a Quattro Formaggi pizza, and top it with mushrooms and truffles using all four kinds of cheese.
MUSHROOMS AND TRUFFLES:
Reach for porcini, or other varietals of wild mushrooms, such as shitake, cremini, and oyster mushrooms to showcase their meaty, buttery texture and deep earthy flavors that button mushrooms lack. You’ll find them mostly at farmer’s markets for an average of twenty dollars per pound. Or live it up and go for the heady aroma of winter white truffles, which cost over $1,500 per pound. Summer black truffles are not nearly as aromatic or precious but still give a great “mushroomy” flavor and ring up at less than four hundred bucks. A few drops of truffle oil on a pizza never hurt it, although buyer beware: many truffle oils are not created with real truffles but are made with a chemical compound that mimics their flavor.
SKIP PEPERONI, ADD CURED HAM:
Create a “meat lovers pizza” by rounding up thinly cut slices of Prosciutto di San Daniele, which is sweeter, fattier, and less produced than Prosciutto di Parma, making it more expensive. Or try Spanish Iberico ham, the Spanish version of Italian prosciutto made from a rare breed of black Iberian pig. These cured hams will set you back anywhere from $25 to $200 per pound —but you only need a few slices.
When making a special pizza, forget the wimpy-looking black olives out of a can and go for variety. Mix smoky Taggiasca, buttery and fruity Gaeta, big green, and hearty Castelveltrano olives from Sicily on top of your pizza. Each range from seven to $20 per pound, depending on the producers and if you purchase them pitted.
Theresa Gambacorta is a writer and cookbook co-author. Her writing has appeared in such titles as La Cucina Italiana, Spin Magazine, Men's Fitness, Muscle and Fitness, and Centennial's special interest publications. She is the co-author of chef Joey Campanaro's Big Love Cooking (Chronicle, 2020), chef Nasim Alikhani's Sofreh (Knopf, 2023), and the forthcoming vegan cookbook, Eat What Elephants Eat by activist Dominick Thompson (Simon Element, 2024).