When you find a good product, you may want to know the name behind it. Brand names keep loyal customers coming back to fulfill needs of all sorts. When you need gym shoes, you might look for the Nike swoosh; one day you might find yourself driving a few hours for that new Coach purse — no matter what you’re interested in, the name on the product matters. In the Lansing area, there’s a family name that keeps the crowds coming back day after day for their Italian cuisine and hometown feel — Deluca’s Restaurant. Let me start by saying that I was delighted to use this food review as an excuse to visit one of my favorite restaurants in the area. This preference is true for a few reasons. First, I’m partial to well-made Italian food, which is getting harder to find as generations of immigrant families blend their cultures here in the States. Second, the Delucas are proud of their history, carry on the family name and feature their homemade recipes on the menu. I was lucky to have my grandfather, an immigrant from Italy himself, join me on Friday night for an early dinner. A fairly picky and critical eater himself, I knew Deluca’s would be an easy crowd pleaser. We arrived around 5:30 p.m., and I was shocked to already find a packed house. Luckily, as a small party we did not have to wait, but I could tell that it wouldn’t be long before their lobby would be full of hungry customers. Our waitress recognized my grandfather from his frequent visits and was very pleasant to me as well. The family feel of this restaurant cannot go unnoticed. I always feel like I’m over at a cousin’s house to enjoy a home-cooked meal when I visit Deluca’s. The pictures of their ancestry adorn the walls, the dim lighting sets a relaxed atmosphere and the sound of camaraderie fills the air. Your eyes catch glimpses of garlic bread baskets and pizzas on stands as you make your way around the restaurant and your nose takes in the other dishes you might have missed. The smells are rich and thick with marinara and fresh baked bread. At this point, I’ve tried a variety of things on the menu from baked pastas to calzones, but that day I wanted to go for the gold — my absolute favorite items on their menu are their Greek salad and spinach pizza. Let me specify that the 10-inch spinach pizza is the one you want. The size is large enough to share, and in my experience, the 14-inch pizza loses some of the pie-like qualities that the smaller version provides. The Greek salad also comes in a few different sizes. I ordered the large salad so I could take some for leftovers. This salad is piled with all the appropriate pieces of a true Greek salad. There is no shortage of Feta cheese, pepperoncini, beets, olives, onions or tomatoes. I particularly enjoy the dressing, which is made like most others on their menu, in-house. My grandfather also ordered a cup of the vegetable and meatball soup, overflowing with the contents when it was served. After enjoying a few helpings of salad, the pizza arrived. Let me warn you now: CHEESE. The spinach pizza is a gooey, stringy, mozzarella mess — that’s what I love! Under that, a spinach and ricotta mixture with cream sauce fills the middle. The pie is complete with a thick, flaky, perfectly cooked crust; it’s the kind of crust that crunches on the outside, but stays soft on the inside — and it doesn’t go to waste. To those readers who might be weary to try this because you’re not crazy about spinach, do not let that deter you. I’ve introduced this pizza to many people, and there are very few who have not finished at least a slice or two. One thing is certain about eating at Deluca’s Restaurant; you will leave full. In an Italian family, this means a job well done. Your wallet won’t take a hit there either; I’ve found the prices to be very reasonable for the quality food and service. In my opinion, it also feels much better to support local restaurants that do a good job — from the packed establishment I see that many other Lansing area residents share my perspective. Congratulations to the Deluca family for more than 50 years of serving fantastic food in this community, I wish you another 50 years of continued success — see you soon!