Cugino’s, Grand Ledge

Chris: I’m hungry, let’s go get something to eat.
Me: Okay, I was going to make…

Chris: No, I don’t want to wait, let’s just go.

We get in the car and he goes right (south) out of the complex.  Then says, where should we go.

Me: Well the only place south is the truck stop.  What are you in the mood for?

After ‘no’s to pizza, Chinese, Mexican,  and more, he turned right on St. Joseph Hwy towards Grand Ledge with still no plan.  As we were driving, I remembered that someone had mentioned Cugino’s for Italian in Grand Ledge.  The only other restaurants I knew of out there were 2 Chinese places and a Mexican grill (see beginning of this).  Driving along Saginaw, “just in case” there was something new, we spotted this Bavarian looking building with a couple neon signs hanging out front, behind the Felpausch’s grocery store.  Very excited about a possible new discovery we pulled in to discover a tanning salon. Yeesh.

So, we ended up at Cugino’s Italian Restaurant. They were pretty busy for a Tuesday night and we had to wait a few minutes for a table.  And a few more minutes for a waitress.  When she did come, she seemed a little frazzled but friendly.  They serve Pepsi here so we stuck with water.

Before I get to the food, I would like to comment on the atmosphere.  Cugino’s is very nice inside with stained glass lampshades, dark woods and a nice fireplace.  The bar area is small and cozy. The whole place is smoke-free.  I mention this now because if you go to their website to preview the menu, the pictures are taken with a red-checked tablecloth in the background.  We never saw one of these in the restaurant.

Since pizza was off the menu, I decided to turn my attention to the entrees although the thin-crust margharita was very tempting.  The entree menu was long on pasta dishes but they also have a few “dinners” such as steak, chicken tenders and fish.  They also offer a selection of “South of the Border” items, calzones and subs. I narrowed it down to two choices: Pasta Giovanni or Pasta with Pesto. Both included homemade pesto and chicken but the Pasta Giovanni won out with the addition of sun-dried tomatoes.  Chris, after a bit of waffling went for the stuffed shells and added a side meatball.  Dinners come with a choice of soup or salad. I had a salad and Chris ordered the potato soup.

My salad was nothing special- lettuce, tomato and thin red onion with a little carrot and tomato thrown in.  I did like the buttery croutons though.  Chris liked his soup, said it was “pretty good for a restaurant” whatever that means. I asked for a bite and he told me I didn’t like potato soup.  What?  I never said that!  I have said I don’t like cheese soups but I most certainly did not say a thing about not liking potato soup. In fact, I have some leeks in the fridge right now to make Potato-Leek later this week.  I gave him the benefit of the doubt that he wasn’t mixing me up with his other girlfriend and got my sample.  It was pretty good, heavy on the ham/bacon flavor and maybe not as creamy as I’d have liked.

Not surprisingly, our entrees were enormous. I was happy as soon as she set my bowlful of pasta down. The smell of fresh basil was amazing.  I ate the whole piece of chicken and about 1/4 of the fettucine on my plate before I couldn’t handle any more.  I should have enough pasta for two or three more meals.  I think I’m going to saute a chicken breast and maybe toss some toasted pine nuts in when I reheat it.  Chris managed a little more of his shells but still had a good size portion leftover.  His side meatball was actually two meatballs and cost just 75 cents extra! All dinners come with a big fresh-baked breadstick on the side.  I thought the breadstick was a little dry but quickly remedied that by dipping it in Chris’s marinara sauce.  Their marinara is on the sweeter side so now I’m interested to see what they do for pizza sauce. Maybe next time.
When I was looking at the website, I noticed a video of Pat DeLuca making pizza at the bottom of this page.  And I thought “DeLuca? Like DeLuca’s pizza? What?”  A little internet searching later, I discovered that Pat used to work at the DeLuca’s on Willow in Lansing. In fact, he’s Chuck DeLuca’s son.  Chuck is one of the three sons who bought out their dad (also named Pat) and kept on making pizzas.  The article, originally from Great Lansing Business Monthly also reminded me of another Italian place I have yet to try: Spagnuolo’s over in Okemos.

Since we eat at DeLuca’s a lot, I can safely say that while both places are good, they are not alike.  Since I haven’t tried Cugino’s pizza, I can’t compare those two but if I wanted pasta, I’d probably go to Cugino’s.  That section of the menu is larger and more varied than at DeLuca’s.  Hopefully we’ll get back out there before too long to sample the pizza.  Cugion’s is located in downtown Grand Ledge, a cute little place with a small number of boutique shops and an old-school movie theater where the seats are just 2 bucks!  Unfortunately, this week’s movie is Beverly Hills Chihuaha.

Details

Website: with menu

Address: 306 S. Bridge Street, Grand Ledge, MI 48837

Hours: Specifics not listed; Open for lunch & dinner Mon-Sat. Closed Sundays

Smoke free, full bar; carryout/ catering available

For my previous review of DeLuca’s, click HERE

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