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Of all the budget-friendly foods students eat, no cuisine is more closely associated with the collegiate lifestyle than pizza. A celebrated contributor to the freshman 15, pizza earned its much sought-after place on the food pyramid with endless topping choices, reasonable prices and convenient, shareable shape.And according to the Progress’ Best of Richmond poll, the indisputable king of the pizza mountain is Giovanni’s.

Recognition as best pizza parlor in town came as no shock to manager Deana Durham.

“I’m not surprised; people love our pizza,” Durham said. Making good pizza is simple, she said-stick with quality ingredients and you can’t go wrong. “Its made right. We give people what they want.”

A quick Google search will tell you that Giovanni’s is one of the most common names for independent pizzerias, yet this eatery is part of a national chain featuring about 20 stores, with several more in Kentucky. So how did the small pizzeria tucked away at the bypass and Boggs Lane reach the pinnacle of pizza-making?

Any pizza connoisseur will tell you that the secret is in the sauce. Toppings are great, good cheese important, but it’s the sauce that defines flavor.

“I’ve been eating pizza since before I could walk,” said Marty Dean, a freshman from Berea. “This is a tangy, authentic Italian sauce. I ain’t gonna name names, but some of the chains have sauce that gets old and you have to rotate between them. This one is unique.”

Owner Chris Oakley said he was delighted.

“We really appreciate the award and the honor,” he said. “We want to thank Richmond for supporting local business and the local economy.”

Few things are better than a great pizza but, knowing that one of them is a discount price, Oakley said some enticing deals were on the horizon.

“We’ll have our four year anniversary April 27,” he said. “We’ll have specials to thank our customers for their support.