Pizza may have become a common feature of the Maltese diet, but one being sold in Valletta is way beyond the reach of most people.
A gourmet pizzeria is selling a pizza with white truffles and 24-carat gold leaf and buffalo mozzarella over a thin, traditional crust – for €1,800.
Claude Camilleri, owner of Margo’s Pizzeria, said the idea came about last winter when, together with pizzaiolo Giovanni Staiano, he was handling truffle at Mistra’s Palazzo Santa Rosa, which Camilleri also runs.
“We were nosing the truffle and enjoying its smell, and said, wouldn’t it be nice if we had this on a pizza, and bring out the amazing flavour of truffle – and if we really want to be vulgar, put gold leaf on it?”
Mr Staiano went ahead with the plan, and according to Mr Camilleri the pizza has already been ordered twice by a local hotelier, who had to be persuaded not to have tomatoes on the pizza, as the acidity clashes with the taste of the truffles.
It is sold by the weight of the truffle – currently at €6,500 per kilo. The chef says 50-100 grams of white truffle are placed on the pizza, so the experience can be shared by as many diners as possible.
“We’re trying to draw attention to the quality of the food. Having truffles on a pizza which is not the best pizza possible would be a travesty, a sin. And to put truffles on a Margo’s pizza, you need to be confident that what you are creating is an exceptional masterpiece,” Mr Camilleri said.
Culinary excellence is not the sole purpose of the pizza and, as the price tag suggests, Margo’s is vying to cook its way into the Guinness Book of World Records for selling the most expensive commercially-available pizza in the world.
The record is currently held by Gordon Ramsay’s thin-crust, wood fire-baked pizza topped with onion purée, white truffle paste, fontina cheese, baby mozzarella, pancetta, cep mushrooms, freshly picked wild mizuna lettuce and fresh shavings of a rare Italian white truffle, which retailed at £100 on his Maze restaurant menu.
The pizza can only be ordered a week in advance, and the truffle is delivered via courier especially for the pizza. It is, however, available on the menu, as this is one of the prerequisites for it to be eligible for the Guinness world record.
Despite the hefty price tag, Mr Camilleri claims the restaurant will not make any profit from the pizza, and “even if we make money from that pizza, we are determined to give that money away. We get enough return from making that pizza through the exposure we get”.
The burning question, however, is what happens to the gold leaf once it has been eaten.
“It has no nutritional value whatsoever,” Mr Camilleri says, though it is often used in luxury food and drink.
“The nice thing is you can go to the toilet and say: ‘See, that shiny one is mine.’”
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