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Antonio’s Cucina Italiana

Danny Raskin: That’s Italian!

Antonio’s Cucina Italiana has been serving authentic Old-World fare since 1964.

When speaking of Italian dining, done usually with much reverence, the name Antonio’s Cucina Italiana … as of this year is now at five localities … is many times said with much appeal because of the place it holds in conversations about truly authentic ethnic dining.

Because Italian cuisine is without doubt among the leaders when talk revolves around authentic pursuance of such, this high reputation is held with much regard.

Although a group of family Italian restaurants small enough not to call itself a chain, Antonio’s holds a special esteem in the hearts of many when speaking of authentic Italian dining.

But all may not have been so when it originally opened in 1964 as an Italian family restaurant called Roman Village that has grown into five dining locations with the last four named after its originator, Antonio Rugiero Sr., who with wife, “Mamma Rita” Rugiero, opened their first restaurant in Dearborn … Since all five restaurants have separate anniversaries, it is quite impossible to name just one.

Mama Rita Rugiero and Antonio Rugiero Jr.

Mama Rita Rugiero and
Antonio Rugiero Jr.

The first, Roman Village, Dearborn, 1964 … Antonio’s Dearborn Heights, 1992 … Farmington Hills, 2000 … Canton, 2007 … Livonia, 2018 … Each noted as an upscale family restaurant with excellent and authentic Italian food and reasonable prices … All open Monday-Thursday, 10:30 a.m.-10 p.m.; Friday, 10:30-11 p.m.; Saturday, 1-11 p.m.; Sunday, 1-9 p.m.

The Rugiero family, Antonio Jr., Patrick, Mark and Robert, run each of its locations as one unit … with every member having the responsibility that includes all locations … As an example, Mamma Rita oversees all recipes that have been handed down for generations …Antonio Jr. (Tony) is at the helm as CEO and president.

Every menu consists of Antonio’s fresh authentic Italian food that brings back many memories of days in Italy … The clam dish that sells out frequently, its Chicken Antonio breast topped with provolone cheese, the gnocci with Rita sauce and sautéed in a creamy tomato … The various chicken and gnocci styles are specialty items that can be found only at Antonio’s.

A very popular dish is its Spaghetti Alla Bocella … and Antonio’s popular Veal Osso Bucco is not found at most Italian restaurants … The peasant dish polenta made from corn flour is served over it and also as an appetizer.

And there is Antonio’s noted and difficult-to-copy bread … Almost 7,000 pounds a week for all its locations from a secret recipe brought back from Italy by Antonio Rugiero Sr. called pizza bread.

Yes, it all started back in 1964 as a small pizzeria with a half-dozen items … And, of course, Chef Mamma Rita has over the years added classic recipes from back home to the menu … No small reason among numerous others of why so many families truly enjoy their old-school traditional Antonio’s Cucina Italiana visits.

GOOD LITTLE restaurants are very important to malls, shopping centers and large shopping areas … Many people are known to go where they can spend their time shopping as well as eating.

WHAT PEOPLE TALK ABOUT … Wine-steamed mussels at Bella Piatti, Birmingham … Barbecued or fried shrimp and Louisiana-style gumbo and luscious muffins at Beans & Cornbread, Southfield … Double-bone lamb chops at Uptown Parthenon, West Bloomfield … Fruit baskets after dining at Moro’s, Allen Park.

MAIL DEPT.from Herman Kahn … “I was in Washington, D.C., recently and taken by my friend to a restaurant called the Tadich Grill. It doesn’t look like much, but I had some of the best Oysters Rockefeller I have ever had and an out-of-this world clam chowder. I don’t know what they do to those oysters, but they sure were sensational!”

(While visiting son Scott in San Francisco, I enjoy going to the original Tadich Grill on California Street for its wonderful Cioppino. Tadich Grill in California is more than 100 years old (opened 1849) and is the state’s oldest restaurant.)

AWAITED NEWS has the new Cantoro Italian Trattoria Troy, Big Beaver between Rochester Road and John R, now open for lunch … 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays … And Happy Hours 3-6 p.m. Mondays-Fridays.

OLDIE BUT GOODIE … The company decided it was time for a change and hired Morris for the job. He was to rid the company of all slackers. On his first tour of the factory, he saw a young man leaning against a wall and asked him how much money he made. The young man tells him $240 a week and asks why he wants to know. Morris hands the young man $240 and says, “Here’s a week’s pay. Get out of here and don’t let me see you here again.”

Feeling good about his dismissal, Morris looks around and asks, “Does anyone want to tell me what that idiot did here?”

One of the workers replied, “He’s a pizza delivery guy from Dominos.”

CONGRATS … To Gary Tringale on his birthday … To Leon Sampson on his 15th birthday … To Jeff and Mallory Sharpe on their fifth anniversary

Danny’s email address is dannyraskin2132@gmail.com.

Danny Raskin

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