By Jiabin Liu
Grand Ledge Gazette staff writer
GRAND LEDGE – With a true belief in their product, Cugino’s Italian restaurant has been successful in Grand Ledge for the past 13 years.
Cugino’s, is located in the heart of downtown Grand Ledge, offers a wide range of Italian specialties. This restaurant is the winner of the 2013 People’s Choice Award in three different categories, which are dinner, Italian and pizza.
The owners of Cugino’s, Mark Naccarato and Pat Deluca, are cousins who bought the restaurant from their great uncle in 2001. It was called Pasquale’s before it turned into a family style restaurant in April 2001.
Both Naccarato and Deluca are Italians who grew up in a family restaurant business in Grand Ledge. However, when they both graduated from college, Naccarato became a machine tool designer for 12 years and Deluca worked as an engineer for eight years. They had very little experience when they first started their own business.
“But we thought it would be a nice change,” Naccarato said. “ We figured we could give a try.”
Their sauces, soups doughs and pizzas are all homemade products inside their house. It’s their priority to keep everything fresh with the capability to control their products.
“The restaurant experience is food, atmosphere and value,” Naccarato said. “I know where the food comes from is the most important part.”
With the respect to their food and customers, the restaurant had the capacity to present their pizza and calzones on Michigan’s Best Pizza Tour.
Leigh Mateer, a customer who has been coming to Cugino’s for years, holds positive attitudes about the restaurant’s products and atmosphere.
“I’ve been coming here probably over one hundred times,” Mateer said. “ Their food is amazing, and it’s a fun place to come to.”
Sara Abfalter, a senior student at Lansing Community College, has been working in the restaurant as a server for nearly 13 years since it was opened in 2001.
“We are like family,” Abfalter said. “They’re really good people to work for. They generally care about their workers and take good care of us.”
Savannah Wear, a high school student at Grand Ledge High School who has worked in the restaurant for approximately six months. She always likes the restaurant and enjoys talking to different people.
“All the co-workers are getting very well,” Wear said. “ I had a good team work experience.”
Contact Reporter Jiabin Liu