Sponsored by Antonio’s and Roman Village
Photography courtesy of Antonio’s and Roman Village
55 years in any business is a milestone and in the restaurant business, it is considered an impressive feat. What’s even more remarkable is Antonio’s and Roman Village restaurants are family-owned and operated.
Antonio Rugiero Sr. immigrated from southern Italy in 1962 and started Roman Village Pizzeria in Dearborn where 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 authentic Italian food and service.
Antonio Rugiero Sr.’s famous pizza pie recipe put them on the map in 1964 after winning a local award. Now celebrating 55 years, the family has grown with his four sons and 13 grandchildren who all have a role in the family business.
Although Antonio Sr. passed in 2008, the family remains committed to their father’s dream. Enrica, known as “Mama Rita”, is still active and working everyday alongside her four boys.
When asked about her experience building a business in a new country while raising four children, Mama Rita says, “It was a lot of fun and not much of sleep. I really enjoyed all those 55 years and I would do it all over again.”
“When you have passion and you love your work, it is much easier to keep on going,” she adds.
According to the Family Business Alliance, about 30 percent of family businesses succeed the second generation.
“It is an honor to carry on the tradition and build a legacy with my brothers Mark, Robert and Patrick,” Antonio Rugiero Jr., President and CEO of the family operation says.
Rugiero Jr. is committed to the dream his parents built and is proud to see his children take on roles ranging from busing tables, to serving, cooking and even acting as food critics.
Together the family owns one large family Italian restaurant with five extensions and employs over 300 people in Metro Detroit. The business is not a franchise and the family works hard to maintain consistency with food and service at all locations.
“This starts with a great protocol,” Rugiero Jr. says. “Mom and the boys work at all locations to guarantee quality and it shows in the great food we have served for 55 years.”
The family is committed to maintaining an authentic experience in an updated, clean atmosphere. Pastas are made from scratch at each location and menus feature recipes Rugiero Sr. and Mama Rita brought over from Italy, 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.
The Rugieros believe in giving back to their community. The family prioritizes to supporting charities and his children often serve as volunteers at various events.
“I am sure Papa Rugiero would be proud,” Rugiero Jr. says.
Additionally, to celebrating their anniversary, Antonio’s and Roman Village are paying it forward with 55 cent pizza, 55 cent pasta and $5.55 lunch combos at different times throughout the year.
It is impressive to see a family working together to create a successful business that is part of this community.
“My brothers and I are blessed to have amazing wives, supportive families, dedicated staff, loyal customers and friends that allow us to tiriamo avanti — to move forward,” Rugiero Jr. says.
Did You Know?
- Pasta is made fresh from scratch at each location
- The Spaghetti Carbonara “Alla Bocelli” is named after famed musician Andrea Bocelli
- Antonio’s and Roman Village prepare and serve 6,750 pounds of hot bread a week. Complementary bread is served during soup & salad course at no charge.
- Gelato is made-in-house at the Canton and Livonia locations
- Fresh homemade cannolis are only 55 cents all year for their 55 year anniversary!
Learn more about Antonio’s and Roman Village anniversary specials at antoniosrestaurants.com.