Roman Village celebrates 50 years, new beginning

The Rugiero family will celebrate a milestone anniversary of one of their restaurants as well as the birth of another in 2014.

Antonio and Enrica (Rita) Rugiero opened Roman Village Cucina Italiana, 9924 Dix Ave, 50 years ago in southeast Dearborn.

This year, the family — Rita and her sons, Anthony, the company president; Mark, Robert and Patrick — will open their fifth location on Plymouth Road at Merriman in Livonia.

The family began expanding from their original restaurant when they opened Antonio’s Cucina Italiana at 26356 Ford Road in Dearborn Heights in 1992, and continued with another at 37646 12 Mile Road in Farmington Hills in 2000, and a third at 2220 N. Canton Center Road in Canton in 2007.

All four restaurants have pasta factories in the dining rooms where guests can experience pasta being made fresh daily. All soups, sauces, breads and dressings also are made in-house daily.

Signature dishes at all four restaurants include Gnocchi Rita, gnocchi with Mama Rita’s special pancetta and mushroom sauce, and Chicken Antonio, pan-prepared breast of chicken smothered in a creamy white sauce topped with provolone cheese.

Other specialties include veal chops, polenta, pizza, calzones, fresh-baked bread, Bar-B-Que ribs and homemade cannoli.

“The quality is in the details,” Anthony Rugiero said. “People see it. They come in and sense that family feel. You’d be surprised. Even a consumer who’s not Italian understands great Italian food when they have it.”

A house specialty, Spaghetti Carbonara “Alla Bocelli” is a recipe that Italian tenor and songwriter Andrea Bocelli prepared at Roman Village while in town.

“I sit on the board of the (Detroit) Opera House, and I love Bocelli’s music,” Rugiero said. “When he came to town, we met and found we had a lot in common. He loves to cook, so I invited him to our restaurant to cook his favorite dish. It was delicious. I asked if we could add it to our menu. He said yes.”

All four restaurants are open seven days a week. For menus or information on catering, banquets, gift cards and special events, go to www.antoniosrestaurants.com.

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