Diner finds ‘extremely rare’ £3k pearl the size of a pea in his oyster stew at lunch

Rick Antosh, 66, had met a friend for lunch at Grand Central Oyster Bar on December 5 when he discovered the jewel in his pan roast.

Diving into the dish – which includes six Blue Point oysters – the New Jersey resident said he felt a tiny object rolling around his mouth and initially worried he needed a dentist.

“For a fraction of a second, there was terror. Is it a tooth; is it a filling?" Antosh told The New York Post.

He then discovered it was a pea-sized pearl — which, according to ­Eddie Livi, owner of DSL Pearl on West 47th Street, could be worth thousands of dollars.

“Value is based on lustre, clarity and roundness,” Livi said.

Looking at a photo of Antosh’s pearl, he noted its imperfections, saying: "It is not very round and has a black spot that may or may not be removable. [For] something in this condition, a dealer who really wants it, ballpark, may pay $2,000 to $4,000."

When he discovered his treasure, Antosh initially thought it wasn’t that unusual.

“This isn’t Joe’s Steakhouse. It’s the most famous oyster place in the United States. I [assumed] it doesn’t happen often, but figured it happens at times," the retired hospitality consultant said.

Antosh pocketed the pearl and didn’t say anything to the restaurant, but after he got home, he was curious and called to ask how often they see such a thing.

The worker on the other end of the phone was stunned — as was executive chef Sandy Ingber when he heard the news.

“I’ve been here 28 years, this is only the second time I’ve seen this happen. And we sell over 5,000 oysters on the half shell every day," said Ingber.

He explained that the oysters used in the pan roast are from Virginia and arrive at the restaurant pre-shucked.

“It’s extremely rare, so that makes it interesting and exciting,” he added.

Jon Turcott, general manager of Glidden Point Oyster Farms in Maine, agreed. “It’s very rare to happen naturally. It takes time for a pearl to form and they are generally harvested for market before [a pearl] becomes that large.”

According to Matthew W. Gray, an oyster physiologist at the University of Maryland, pearl production in Eastern oysters is a bit of a mystery.

He said: “Among pearl producers, some species can produce a pearl that is the size of pea in less than one year; however, environmental and genetic factors play a role on the growth rate. The occurrence of natural pearls in oysters is not well understood, but anecdotally it has been estimated as 1 in 10,000,” added Gray.

When an irritant, such as a piece of sand, gets lodged in the oyster’s shell, a pearl forms to protect the mollusk.

Antosh, who hasn’t had his prize appraised, said he’s not yet sure what he’ll do with it. But he feels like the world is his oyster.

“I will definitely come back and try to find more pearls,” he said of Grand Central Oyster Bar. “You never know.”

A version of this story originally appeared on the New York Post.

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