Elections are typically pretty polarizing, and when it comes to voting, there may be one contest more contentious than Red versus Blue: the perfect pizza.
Esquire's "Eat Like A Man" blog recently went in search of the "most life-changing pizza," with a week-long reader poll dictating the winner. When the votes were tallied, Chicago's Lou Malnati's came out on top by a thin-crust margin of 0.6 percent.
(Scroll down to check out the top seven life-changing pizzas.)
Co-owner Marc Malnati recommends the "Chicago Classic" to Esquire readers: a deep-dish sausage pizza loaded with tomato sauce and cheese atop the pizzeria's signature "buttercrust."
Still family-owned, Malnati hedged on calling the company a "chain" in Esquire, though the shop has expanded to a 34 locations across the Chicagoland area. The original Lou Malnati's started in suburban Lincolnwood in 1971, with Malnati getting his start in one of Chicago's first deep-dish joints, Pizzeria Uno (owned by his father, Rudy).
Though a perennial favorite and anointed "life changer" by a national audience, Lou Malnati's isn't always the top pick among Chicago's pizza buffs. Chicago Pizza Tours taps spots like Pizano's, Pequod's and Gino's East to rep Chicago deep-dish. Elsewhere, artisanal Great Lakes wins Chicago's top slot, while Art of Pizza nabs first place for deep-dish.
Not to be left out, several New York pizza joints also had strong showings worth celebrating, though Chicago landing two pizzerias among the top five is the best overall showing of any city in the poll.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this story stated incorrectly that Rudy Malnati's first pizza place was Pizano's. It was Pizzeria Uno.
1424 Avenue J, Brooklyn, N.Y.
350 Hawthorne Avenue, Derby, Conn.
Eleven Chicago-area locations.
7734 Forsyth Boulevard, St. Louis, Mo.
32 Spring Street, New York, N.Y.
Two locations in New Haven, seven total (including one in Yonkers, N.Y.)
Thirty-four Chicago-area locations.