Cugino’s: Italian Comfort Food With a Kick

Who is ready for spring? Is it here? Because as I key this in, it sure is slow in arriving. The theme this month is bright and beautiful….

Who is ready for spring? Is it here? Because as I key this in, it sure is slow in arriving. The theme this month is bright and beautiful. I would love to paint you a picture of Editor Emily and I gleefully skipping into an airy oasis of glowing and beatific food whilst surrounded by chirping birds and budding tulips and oaks.
Instead, we got a torrential downpour and a blazing fireplace (thank goodness). Bright and beautiful was lacking this particular evening, but warm and dark like a womb sufficed (it is Mother’s Day this month anyway).
The point of this article is food. Upon opening the Cugino’s menu, there were salads. In fact, they were numerous and they all sounded lovely. However, they are not the point of this joint. “Light” is not the word to describe what Grand Ledge’s Cugino’s has to offer. Think rich, dense, “stick to your ribs” comfort Italian. From everything Emily and I tried, nothing was simple on the tongue. It was always an all out brawl of tomato, garlic or spice. And no one was complaining.
Emily and I started with the bruschetta. It was the perfect way to begin our hike through Italian land. The tomatoes and herbs had a lovely balance, the basil just sneaking out a little to the front, which I love.
Apparently, Cugino’s other star starter is their cheesy bread. As it sailed past us on numerous occasions, I heaved a deprived sigh. The cheesy breadsticks looked light and airy, like huge pillows straight from heaven lovingly draped with warm and gooey blankets of mozzarella.
Let’s take this image straight to their pizza selection. There are rumors that people drive far and wide for Cugino’s pizza. Everything is made from scratch and they offer both a New York style and a deep dish. Emily chose the St. Ippolito pizza. It had the New York crust, sausage, sweet red peppers and feta. I think it’s safe to say that you could not miss the mark here.
Our neighbor had some deep dish that I frankly ogled rudely for a solid 20 minutes. The owners never picked up on it and offered me a piece. How rude.
Let’s get to the many, many Italians dinners one can choose. There was eggplant parmesan, sirlion marsala, etc.
My dish, called Pasta Roma, began with sweet little penne pasta drowned in silky vodka sauce. Coming in to amp up my palate was a spicy sausage that demanded my attention. Then, just to really throw my taste buds into a tizzy, they smothered the whole thing with feta. There was nothing to do but moan in surrender and try to keep Emily’s greedy paws of my plate.
Leaving Cugino’s did not resemble the image presented prior … Emily and I skipping gleefully away from our dinner at Cugino’s. Rather, I felt like I rolled my way back to my car. And you know what? I think there is no greater compliment to a family-owned Italian restaurant.
Of course, if you are looking for light, you could always just get a salad.
Cugino’s is at 306 S. Bridge St., Grand Ledge. Call them at (517) 627-4048 or visit them online at www.cuginosmenu.com.

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