Cugino’s Italian Deli UNLV Maryland Parkway
After school, my son likes following the university students to the Italian deli named Cugino’s at the Running Rebel Plaza across Maryland Parkway from the UNLV Student Union. The students line up for thick slices of Sicilian cheese pizza, baked Ziti, Italian rice balls stuffed with ground beef, Reuben deli sandwiches, gnocchi potato dumplings, some stuffed with cheese, and round meatball sandwiches covered with melted cheese combined with red sauce. The place is popular. The chefs brought their recipes from New York City. The family styled menu items are all homemade. Every ingredient original from the garlic knots to the bread crumbs used for the chicken cheese parmigiana. The sandwiches are so large that I can only eat half. The second half goes home for dinner following lunch. Police know all the restaurant in town and they stop inside Cugin’s for lunch, which is funny with irony since photographs on the wall pay homage to Sicilian gangsters Charlie Lucky Luciano, Tony Soprano next to a portrait of Robert DeNiro known for his Godfather fame. Two of the special house sandwiches are named Tony Soprano and the Godfather. Maps of Italy paint the wall above homemade cookies colorfully wrapped for holiday gifts. Pizza and chicken wing specials are made for large families enjoying football games and college students in the dorms watching sports. Buckets of chicken wings are delivered. Weekends, all the cars in the parking lot after final exams finished were diners at Cugino’s Italian Deli. Sunday, instead of breakfast at a pancake house full of waffles, we waited until Cugino’s opened at 10 AM for homemade linguine noodles with a little seafood spice, the red sauce was tangy over calamari, scallops, shrimp and grilled abalone served with cucumber and tomato salad with fresh bread rolls. There was a line of customers by 11 AM one hour later and two police officers on a lunch break. The tables were full. The servings large, our family brought bags of food home and ate the rest of the day: Seafood, mushrooms, salad, potatoes, olives, marinated vegetables. I ate the large bowl of Minestrone soup at the table. Varieties of hot soups with spinach, cabbage, rice, and boiled brown beans. I kept wondering how they made the broth since the taste was so original, “Was it chicken broth or vegetable broth? Slow cooked?” The soups taste was delicious. The chefs spoke of New York City, where my wife and I met, and the bakers took pride in their homemade dishes as we spoke of baked fresh lasagna, grilled vegetables marinated in herbs, oils and sauce with mushrooms, eggplant, red peppers, white cheese rolls, peppers stuffed with meat. As we spoke they were seasoning the fresh grilled garlic rolls in more garlic, cheese, olive oil and green herbs, I brought a quarter pound of every salad with vegetables home one afternoon to dine on with their garlic rolls. We spoke of the lite rail system the city plans on developing right in front of the restaurant from the airport to Cashman Center stopping right in front of the deli. This is the only deli full of quality in the entire community giving the neighborhood pride. Frozen groceries are served inside so that you can try and bake the pastas at home, especially the gnocchi, but my wife prefers to eat inside Cugino’s because these professionals cannot be beat in a Sicilian kitchen. Coffee, hot chocolate, large cups of espresso, my children always ask for the hot chocolate served in large bowl shaped cups of creamy sweetness. Students relax with hot chocolate and sweet cannelloni after class to watch soccer on the large HD televisions in the corner.
Cugino’s Italian Deli
Runnin Rebel Plaza, 4550 S Maryland Pkwy #20, Las Vegas, NV 89119