Roman Village, It’s a Family Thing
By Molly Abraham
Restaurants often burst upon the scene, make a big splash, and then are gone in a year or two.
Not so with Roman Village, subtitled Cucina Italiana. It’s been on its Dearborn corner since 1964, serving from-scratch fare from the chicken pastina soup and an array of fresh pastas to the cannoli. It has gotten bigger over the years, but it hasn’t lost its family foundation.
And several other Rugiero family restaurants have joined the big spot at 9924 Dix since the late Antonio founded it. The others are all called Antonio’s Cucina Italiana, and they are spread across the area, from Dearborn Heights and Farmington Hills to Canton. A fifth restaurant is scheduled to open in April in Livonia.
A definite success story. It certainly helped that Antonio had four sons to continue the family business. Anthony, Patrick, Robert and Marco are all involved in running the restaurants and that is a huge advantage.
Much of the traditional Italian fare is prepared from the recipes of the family, whose matriarch, known as Momma Rita, still makes sure the kitchens are running up to her and her late husband’s standards.
Signature dishes include gnocchi Rita, the little dumplings bathed in mushrooms and pancetta; chicken Antonio, chicken breast with white sauce and provolone cheese, and veal osso bucco, but there’s much more. Pizza, of course, typified by the Antonio’s Special, a meat-lover’s dream topped with ham, bacon and pepperoni as well as Italian sausage. There’s a pizza for vegetarians, too.
People rave about the bread, served warm and cut in easy to handle strips, and the restaurants make more than 5,000 pounds of it each week. It is complimentary along with soup and salad. Warning: this bread is so good you can easily fill up on it before the entrees arrive.
Italian restaurants dot the landscape. Some are, shall we say, pretenders. The Rugiero family restaurants are the real thing. You can check them all out atwww.romanvillagerestaurant.com
– Molly Abraham