Three years ago, in December, 2010, cousins Ben Sanford and Joe Egitto took their passion and talent for food and formed Cugino’s Restaurant Group. Cugino is Italian for cousin, so it was a natural name for a business borne of their love for the Italian traditions of their upbringing and the food they grew up enjoying together at Sunday dinners. The three branches of Cugino’s business are Cafe 72 by Cugino’s in West Trenton, Cugino’s Italian Specialty Market in Pennington, and a thriving catering business, Catering by Cugino’s.

Cugino’s Italian Specialty Market (Cugino’s) has an old-world, rustic feel to it — constructed almost entirely by the cousins themselves with some help from their family and close friends. This one-of-a-kind market sells quality products made from scratch, including fresh pasta and ravioli. Those looking for Italian comfort food, bursting with authentic flavors and presented in the most appetizing ways, will love the homemade meatballs.

Cugino’s delectable creations also marry old world and new with flair, such as pan-seared shrimp with an orange, carrot, and ginger sauce. Or check out the fresh fish selections every Friday. The bread arrives daily from New York and is then fully baked on-site for fresh out-of-the oven wholesomeness. All of the Italian meats, cheeses, oils, and vinegars are imported from Italy, including Parma cotta, a cooked prosciutto that Ben says is one of Cugino’s most popular products.

The market is open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays. The store also features counter service and a few seats. Whether you’re looking for lunch that will put a smile on your face the rest of the day, or in search of a dinner to bring home to a family with a discerning palate, Cugino’s has the food for you. Whether you grew up Italian or adopted the (food) culture along the way, you must put Cugino’s on your regular shopping route.

At Cafe 72 by Cugino’s (Cafe 72) in West Trenton, Ben and Joe specialize in exquisite breakfast and lunch seven days a week. Named one of the “best breakfasts” in New Jersey according to NJ Monthly Magazine (February, 2014), Cafe 72 has changed the face of the morning and midday meals in central New Jersey.

“We’ve taken American fare to another level,” says Ben. “We get very creative with the menu, especially with the specials the chef, my cousin Joe, creates. Menu items include Cannoli French Toast, Tiramisu Pancakes, Shrimp Benedict, and a recent special, Lobster Benedict.

The cafe is open from 6:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. daily. They reopen later for private parties. “The food is produced through Cugino’s Italian Specialty Market menu. We use our cafe space to facilitate the events.” A la carte catering is also available for pick up for off-premise events.

No event is too large or too small for the cousins, who created a catering menu to delight any foodie including Italian specialties such as eggplant parmesan, chicken marsala, and lasagna to perfection. They also offer savory panini trays, cold cut platters, fruit and cheese platters, and gourmet antipasto platters appropriate for any occasion, from business lunches and conferences to bridal showers and birthday parties.

Visit them on online at www.cuginosrestaurantgroup.com and follow on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for the latest news and mouth-watering pictures. Stay tuned, because Cugino’s Restaurant Group is planning more restaurant ventures in the future and you will want to know where to find them.

Cugino’s Restaurant Group, Cugino’s Italian Specialties, Pennington Circle, 2566 Pennington Road, Pennington. 609-730-4100. www.cuginospennington.com.

Cafe 72 by Cugino, 72 West Upper Ferry Road, West Trenton. 609-882-0087. www.cafe72.net.

Cugino’s Catering. 609/730-4100 or www.cuginoscateringpenningtonnj.com

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