– A D V E R T I S E M E N T –
Fifty-five years in any business is a milestone, and in the restaurant business, it’s impressive. What’s even more impressive is that the Antonio’s and Roman Village restaurants are still owned and operated by the same family.
It all began in Dearborn in 1964, when Antonio Rugiero Sr.’s famous pizza pie recipe put them on the map. As they celebrate 55 years of serving metro Detroit, the family has grown to include Antonio’s four sons and 13 grandchildren, who are all happy to be part of the family business.
Antonio Rugiero Sr. came to the U.S. from southern Italy in 1962 and started Roman Village Pizzeria in Dearborn. Shortly thereafter he met his wife, Enrica Santioni, who immigrated from central Italy in 1963. Together they worked and raised a family of four sons while establishing a reputation for great Italian food and friendly service.
Although Antonio Sr. passed in 2008, the family remains committed to the dream their father started. Enrica, known as Mama Rita, is still active and works every day alongside her boys. Antonio Rugiero Jr., president and CEO of the family operation, says, “It’s an honor to carry on the tradition and build a legacy with my brothers Mark, Robert, and Patrick.
“Together the family owns one large family Italian restaurant with five extensions,” Rugiero says. “We’re not a franchise. We work hard to keep consistency with food and service at all locations. This starts with a great protocol. Mom and the boys work at all locations to guarantee consistency, and it shows in the great food we’ve served for 55 years. We use fresh and simple ingredients that are made in-house to order, and executed with a great management team and staff.”
The grandchildren, who range from youngsters to college students, all work or participate in the family business. A Rugiero grandchild may be serving clients, busing tables, making pizza, hosting, or acting as a food critic. Like their parents, they love to support the charities the family supports, and they often serve as volunteers at charity events.
When you break bread at any of the Rugiero family’s Italian eateries, you’ll be impressed with the clean Venetian design and generous portions of pasta that are made fresh from scratch at each location. The menu has numerous selections, including fresh seafood and veal ossobuco. Specialties of the house include chicken Antonio, Il Volo Polo, spaghetti carbonara “alla Bocelli” and, of course, gnocchi with Mama Rita sauce. All meals are complemented by the restaurants’ famous baked bread. (Fun fact: Each week, 6,750 pounds of the hot, awesome bread are prepared and served!) But as the menu cautions, “It’s on high demand” — and it’s also served at no charge when you order a meal.
For dessert lovers, two of the locations — Canton and Livonia — serve authentic, made-in-house gelato. There’s also fresh, homemade cannoli, and in this anniversary year, it’s only 55 cents per order.
The Rugieros believe in giving back to the community that has supported them for the past 55 years. So, to celebrate their milestone anniversary, they’re offering 55-cent pizza and 55-cent pasta, as well as $5.55 lunch combos at all their locations at different times throughout the year. You can learn more about their anniversary specials online at antoniosrestaurants.com.
It’s impressive to see a family working together to create a successful business that’s truly become part of the community. Anthony Rugiero Jr. says: “My brothers and I are blessed to have amazing wives and supportive families, dedicated staff, loyal customers, and friends who allow us to ‘tiriamo avanti’ (move forward).”