Profile in Business... Cuccia’s
It’s clear the crew at Cuccia’s (pronounced “Coo-chas”) restaurant grabs life by the wine glass and lives with their motto, “How great would life be if we lived a little every day.” For Gina Prince and her daughter Lila, living a little entails starting up one of the best Italian restaurants in Eastern Plumas County.
Cuccia’s is located on Johnsville Road next to a meadow and the Feather River and serves first-rate pizza, pasta and decadent wines. The warm ambiance creates a welcoming environment with the restaurant’s many windows, an indoor waterfall at the entrance, and family pictures hanging alongside decorative paintings.
Gina has lived in Graeagle for 24 years. She said she and her business partner, Terry Moore, started up Cuccia’s after the building became available. Since the restaurant opened in June 2009 it has been swiftly climbing in popularity.
“We work really, really hard,” said Lila, who is the chef for Cuccia’s. “We are really proud of our reputation.”
Gina said she has been in the restaurant business for a long time; she started as a waitress, and then started working for Terry Moore at the Coyote Bar & Grill in Graeagle. She then opened her own flower shop called Lila’s Flowers and ran that for eight years in town.
“Once you’re a business owner, you’re naturally just a business owner,” said Gina.
She said she and Lila always thought Graeagle could use a nice Italian restaurant, and they found the chance when Moore partnered with them to start Cuccia’s. Cuccia is Gina’s family name.
“It’s not often (that a) building opens up in Graeagle, so when this one did we saw it was the right opportunity,” said Gina.
Lila said she learned all of her techniques from Moore. She now fills her menu with delicious pastas, chicken and veal dinners and tasty pizzas.
Gina said her grandmother was Sicilian and a lot of their food is from her recipes. She also said they traveled around to many different restaurants trying all kinds of pizzas and pastas to construct their menu.
“Some things were original ideas, some things were just classics. We pretty much stick to the classics,” said Gina.
Their pizzas are all named after areas in Eastern Plumas County, such as the Sierra Valley, which is their cheese, pepperoni, sausage and smoked ham pizza. The dough is made with an original sourdough starter from Italy. The yeast culture comes from a bakery that has been producing sourdough for more than 200 years.
“Everything in a kitchen is trial and error. It’s about just doing it. Changing it. Growing it,” said Lila.
A lot of her advertising has been word of mouth, Gina said. She relies on the locals to tell visitors where to go, and they are very good about supporting the whole community in that way.
“We want every restaurant to be the best,” said Lila. “We want people to stay here for a week, so the better every restaurant is the better it is for us.”
Cuccia’s has just started working with other restaurants in the area as well. The Outpost now offers Cuccia’s pizza, because Gina said their restaurant wouldn’t be doing lunch. They also partnered with Buckaroo Chocolates for an upcoming sparkling wine tasting night.
“We are really busy this year,” said Gina. “It could be a combination of this being our fifth year and the economy getting better. We really appreciate all of our customers.”