Visit This New York City Hot Spot To Taste One Of The Most Expensive Pizzas In The World

When we think about pizza, many of us imagine it New York-style: A thin and crispy base with a classic tomato and cheese topping. This style is the most popular pizza in the United States and has become intrinsically linked with the Big Apple, even above other iconic delicacies like bagels, cheesecake, and pastrami sandwiches. Although the dollar slice has sadly died out, it is still the go-to fast food option for millions of busy New Yorkers and tourists alike. Cheap, eaten on the hoof, and as synonymous with the fast-paced city as hotdogs are with the Yankees.

The ubiquitous thin and crispy slice traces its origins to the early 20th century. Italian migrants in New York first baked and sold classic Neapolitan-style pies, but found that their traditional coal-fired ovens took too long. Salesman Frank Mastro changed all that when he invented a gas-fueled system that could cook a pizza evenly in a matter of minutes. The result was a crispier slice better suited to eating on the fly. Pizza has undergone many changes since then, from the controversial creation of the Hawaiian in 1962 to recent trends like artisan doughs and odd ingredient combos. 

Then came two of the strangest fads of the 21st century: Covering food in gold, and creating ridiculously expensive versions of classic dishes. It was only a matter of time before someone did the same to the simple pie — enter Industry Kitchen and the 24K pizza.

What exactly is a 24K pizza?

Not far from Wall Street, Industry Kitchen is a spacious and trendy eaterie on the East River with views of the Brooklyn Bridge. With a focus on fresh seasonal produce and American cuisine, the menu looks pretty straightforward with classic dishes like meatballs, strip steaks, Caesar salads, and wood-fired pizza. Considering the location, the prices aren't outrageous by Manhattan standards; at least, until you reach the bottom of the pizza section and spy the 24K. It comes with a $2,000 price tag (a snip compared to the $12,000 Louis XIII pizza in Salerno, Italy) and needs ordering 48 hours in advance.

The 24K is a frankly gaudy-looking pizza that resembles a very large cookie covered in gold glitter and petals. Industry's Executive Chef, Braulio Bunay, was inspired by the fabulous wealth of the nearby financial district and chose his ingredients accordingly: Black dough infused with squid ink topped with Stilton cheese imported from England; foie gras and truffles flown over from France; caviar all the way from the Caspian Sea; and finished with real gold flakes from Ecuador and a handful of edible flowers.

Unlike regular pizza, only the base and cheese are baked before the rest of the ingredients are added, and served at room temperature because piping heat would turn the caviar. Bunay's 24K pizza made headlines when it first launched and once again raised the lively debate over when pizza stops being pizza.

Industry Kitchen is known for their novelty pizzas

For real purists, pizza is simply a round, flat base topped with sauce and cheese, and that's about it. Certain traditional toppings like pepperoni are acceptable to some. Industry Kitchen's 24K pizza divided opinion when Thrillist reviewed it on the show "Really Dough?" in 2018. The host, Scott Weiner, said it was the "weirdest pizza" he'd ever eaten, but ultimately decided that yes, it was still pizza. His co-host Mark Iacano, a Brooklyn chef and devotee of the traditional style, was far less impressed. He declared that it wasn't pizza because the dough was different from the classic recipe and it had no sauce.

The outrageously expensive 24K makes for great clickbait but it isn't even the strangest pizza that Industry Kitchen has unleashed on the Manhattan food scene. In 2017, its chefs unveiled the Pop Candy Land Pizza, featuring a rainbow dough base covered with vanilla icing, sprinkles, pop rocks, and a whole bunch of cotton candy. For a Halloween surprise the same year, they offered The Skull — think of an orange-colored base with lashings of Nutella, sprinkled with spooky candies, and dominated by a huge candy skull in the middle. As a finishing touch, the waiter added blood-red melted chocolate.

Novelty pizzas like these are best approached with a sense of humor and, in the 24k's case, a very healthy bank balance. But purists needn't worry; they are unlikely to usurp the good old-fashioned NYC slice anytime soon.