Anthony Rugiero was born into a family who understands the value of hard work and commitment. Family and faith are significant components in all aspects of his life – and the influence of his upbringing in a first-generation Italian American family is what makes the difference. These fundamental beliefs were given to him by his parents, Antonio, Sr. and Enrica (“Rita”) Rugiero, who met and married in the United States after both had immigrated from Italy.
People say his love for family is unmistakable. Anthony and his beautiful wife Sabrina met at Antonio’s on her first day at work and Anthony knew that she was the one. They married in 2000 and they have four children – two boys and two girls. Despite a busy schedule, he enjoys spending time coaching his son’s hockey team. Growing up and playing hockey, Anthony has great memories with his father being involved and sponsoring the teams for Anthony and his brothers. Roman Village Hockey teams always celebrated their victories at the restaurant with a post-game pizza party. The team was always dressed to impress in their Roman Village swag. These great memories spent with his father are why he started coaching. The time that he spends on and off the ice with his kids have been some of the greatest memories of his life – like the time he rented a 46 passenger bus for the whole team to travel together to Houghton, Michigan for the state championship where they went undefeated in 2018.
He also enjoys attending school events and spending quality time with his wife and extended family. Anthony and his family embrace traditional values – attending church on Sunday, ensuring that their children understand the importance of honor, honesty, and tradition – especially tradition, starting with work. All the Rugiero children work in the restaurants when they are 15 years or older.
When you meet Anthony, it is clear he is proud of his Italian heritage and enjoys sharing his family traditions with others. Together, with his friends and children they make homemade prosciutto and wine with hand-me-down family recipes. The family enjoys vacationing together and traveling to Italy to visit their family’s home frequently to maintain their heritage, visit with relatives and value the time they spend together. He enjoys taking the kids around to all the places where he spent summers as a little boy, showing them the rich history and tradition of his family, as his parents did for him. Remembering who and where we came from will help us become who we are.
The family lives their motto Tiriamo AvantiTM, which means to always move forward, especially in difficult times, and a positive spirit will prevail. Anthony is so proud of this motto, he has engraved it on all of the restaurants and his home – he even trademarked it! Sharing faith, family and traditions carries family values generation after generation.
“My recipe for success is a balance of family and work, making sure that everyone and everything gets the right amount of attention to be happy and successful.”
Andrea Bocelli cooks Spaghetti Carbonara with Mama Rita, Anthony and Dr. DiChiera at their restaurant.
Rugiero Promise Foundation Board Members 2019
Vincenzo Marra and Anthony Rugiero pose in front of an art piece made by Alessandro Marrone.
Anthony and Zio Sauro
The Rugieros celebrating Opera Day at the Michigan Opera Theatre.
2018 District Champs HB Warriors with Coach Tony, Kevin, Steve and Jon
Antonio Rugiero Sr. celebrates his birthday with his four boys.
Anthony and Mamma Rita enjoying a NYC carriage ride.
Anthony and Patrick with the great Tony Renee.
Il Volo's first benefit dinner in the US with the Rugiero family at the Opera House.
Il Volo returns to the US and visits the Rugiero family.
Anthony with Barbara and Michele Torpedine.
Luciano and Anthony backstage with Jovanotti.
Anthony and his family together for Easter Sunday.
Mark, Patrick, Zio Bruno, Anthony, Fiorenzo, and Zio Sauro at a family wedding.
Family visits from Italy and we celebrate at Antonio's.
Anthony takes a part-time job with the Tucson Fire Department.
Anthony and Mamma Rita dancing the night away at her 75th birthday celebration.
Tom, Patrick, Anthony and Fuente celebrating Cars & Cigars.
The Stella Clan
Tom and Anthony make the 2011 Celani Wine
Anthony tasting the wine before it's time.
Anthony enjoying his personal bottle of Celani wine.
Anthony with Vicky and Tom Celani in Napa, California.
Anthony and Tom making prosciutto for the season.
Anthony, Johnny, Pete, and Mike making prosciutto.
Tom, Mike, Anthony and Pete celebrate tradition.
HB Warriors celebrate their multiple victories with their families at Antonio's.
Coach Tony has the bus prepped for the championship game in Houten, Michigan.
The Big Heat, IYKYK.
Frank Stella passes the torch to Anthony Rugiero in 2009.
Alessandro Marrone, Mayor of Volterra-Italy, and Vincenzo and Suzy Marra presenting Anthony Rugiero with the key to the city.
Il Volo on their visit to Detroit.
Anthony and Sheriff Benny Napoleon load toys for the kids.
Mike, Anthony and Benny telling Santa what they want for Christmas.
Antonio introduces Il Volo to the USA.
Vincenzo Marra with ILICA receives contributions from the Il Volo benefit concert.
New York ILICA Dinner 2016.
Il Volo returns to Detroit.
Il Volo Meet and Greet.
Anthony Rugiero and Sharon Gioia - Michigan Opera House 2009.
Anthony and Mamma Rita present a check to Dr. DiChiera for Opera Day.
Anthony and sponsors gather on Opera Day.
Mamma Rita receives ILICA's Woman of the Year Award with her family: Antonio Jr., Sabrina, Vanessa, Antonio, Attilio, Adrianna and friends Mikayla and Sharon.
Anthony presents Canton Police Chief, James Craig, with gift cards for the community.
Anthony presents Livonia Police Chief, Curtis Caid, with gift cards for the community.
Anthony presents Detroit Police Chief, James Craig, with gift cards for the community.
Anthony presents Dearborn Police Chief, Ron Haddad, with gift cards for the community.
Anthony presents Dearborn Heights Police Chief, Mark Meyers, with gift cards for the community.
Il Volo's first performance in the United States at the Detroit Opera House.
NIAF Dinner in Washington with Antonello Venditti and Patrick and Anthony Rugiero.
NIAF Dinner in Washington with Antonello Venditti and Patrick and Anthony Rugiero.
The Rugiero Family with Santa and the officers at Santa Lunch.
Il Volo returns to Roman Village for dinner with the family.
Antonio opens a new kitchen in the UofD - Volterra in Volterra, Italy for the students.
Anthony hosts Kris Paronto as he tells the story of Benghazi.
Toys, toys, toys...lots of toys for needy kids in Wayne county!
Anthony Rugiero and Tom Celani at charity wine dinner.
Anthony and the Il Volo boys.
Anthony receives the Man of the Year award.
Anthony and friends at the Man of the Year Award presentation.
Anthony receives award from Benny Napoleon and Al Haidous.
Mamma Rita receives ILICA Woman of the Year Award.
Mike, Santa's helper and Blitzen the Reindeer.
In 2011, Anthony established the Rugiero Promise Foundation, a volunteer-only organization, driven on one commitment, “Improving the quality of life in the communities we serve “. Bringing his passion and commitment to numerous charities is extremely fulfilling for Anthony’s work and life. He consistently endeavors to be involved and strongly get behind worthwhile community organizations – whether it is supporting local schools, sponsoring community events, or helping vulnerable individuals; his involvement makes a positive impact.
Throughout the year, the Rugiero Promise Foundation provides longstanding support for several annual charity events to raise funds and awareness for local charities. In 2008, Antonio Sr. passed away from complications due to Diabetes. Inspired by their desire to honor their father’s memory – Anthony and his brothers contemplated their dad’s hobbies and realized all he did was work, but he did enjoy traveling to Las Vegas for the annual Food Show with his sons. These memories of their trips to Las Vegas with their dad are what motivated the creation of Rugiero Casino Royale – the signature event for the Rugiero Promise Foundation, supporting Diabetes Research at the University of Michigan Medicine Center. Anthony’s mission has become to have the Rugiero Promise Foundation and the Casino Royale event become a household name for finding a cure for Diabetes. Anthony feels blessed to be able to give back to the community. Anthony made a vow that, in gratitude for all of God’s blessings, his family would never stop working to help those less fortunate.
Dedicated to the work of philanthropy in both his public and private life, Anthony serves on numerous Charity Boards including the Detroit Opera House, Patrons of the Arts in the Vatican Museums, Italian Language Inter-Cultural Alliance, Volterra-Detroit Foundation, and The Italian American Club of Livonia Charitable Foundation, to name a few. In 1999, Anthony Rugiero joined his mentor Frank Stella, in his efforts to establish the Michigan chapter of the Patrons of the Arts in the Vatican Museums (PAVM), entering the ranks as one of the many chapters around the world – raising money to restore the precious art at the Vatican museums. Anthony and his wife, Sabrina, regard their work with the PAVM as one of the most valuable and rewarding parts of their philanthropic endeavors, knowing that the work that is being done enables their children and future generations to see and appreciate the arts.
Anthony added his expertise and funding to join the mayor and continue the Dearborn Heights Spirit Festival in 2003, a city-wide event to celebrate culture and food. To accomplish this feat, Anthony promised that if the city would continue the festival, Antonio’s would cover the losses, so the taxpayers did not have to, and the kids could continue to enjoy the festival – and so began the Dearborn Heights Spirit Festival sponsored by Antonio’s.
With his Italian heritage being a special part of his life, his mentor Frank Stella introduced Anthony to Vincenzo Marra, who later became a dear friend and founder of the Italian Language Inter-Cultural Alliance (ILICA) This introduction started a long-friendship and Anthony joined the Board of Directors in 2007.
ILICA is an organization that provides training courses in Italy for American teachers who teach the Italian language in grades Kindergarten through the University level. These funds have also allowed the foundation to organize events, art exhibitions as well as trade fairs specifically dedicated to the promotion of language and culture within the USA.
In 2011, Anthony spearheaded a campaign to assist the University of Detroit Mercy to build a school for students studying alabaster and architecture abroad in Volterra, Italy. This was no small project and Anthony knew when Stephen Vogel and Wladek Fuchs, friends of the late Frank Stella, asked for help to bring their vision to reality. To make this happen, they needed funding. At the same time, Anthony was also committed to two other foundations, ILICA and Boy’s Town of Italy. Faced with this challenge, Anthony woke in the middle of the night with the idea of bringing Il Volo to Detroit for a benefit concert to raise money for all three initiatives. Il Volo was Italy’s new singing sensation that Anthony had watched their winning performance at the San Remo Festival in Italy days before. Anthony knew that he had to bring their talents to Detroit and so he introduced Il Volo to the United States with their first concert in Detroit at the Fox Theatre followed by a benefit dinner at the Detroit Opera House. Weeks later, a PBS special aired promoting Il Volo. The Il Volo Concert and benefit dinner was such a huge success that the proceeds were shared with all three charitable initiatives. To commemorate Anthony’s participation in achieving their goal, The newly established University of Detroit-Volterra in Volterra, Italy named the dining hall in Anthony’s father’s honor at his request.
Anthony continued his work with the Italian American community when he joined the Italian American Club of Livonia (IACL) Board of Directors in 2016 through 2020. During that time, the IACL went through its biggest expansion since its founding in 1990. Since 2019, Anthony serves on the Board for the Italian American Club of Livonia Charitable Foundation (IACLCF) which works exclusively for charitable, educational and welfare purposed for the Italian American Community.
My mentor Frank Stella said, “If you take the time to do it, make it count.”
My father would say, “In family, with unity comes strength.”
President and CEO – Antonio’s Cucina Italiana Corporation
President and CEO – Roman Village Incorporated President and CEO – Rugiero Management Group Founding Chairman – Rugiero Promise Foundation
In 1964, Antonio, Sr. opened Roman Village Pizzeria in Dearborn, Michigan, where Anthony and his three brothers learned about the importance of running a restaurant business. In 1992, the brothers opened the first Antonio’s Cucina Italiana in Dearborn Heights – named after their father –which enjoyed so much popularity that they opened two more restaurants in Farmington Hills and Canton. Their newest location in Livonia called Antonio’s Piccolo Ristorante presented a new look for the brand. When his father passed in 2008 from complications due to diabetes, Anthony was proud to serve as President and CEO of the restaurant groups, along with the Rugiero Management Group that oversees the operation of five growing restaurants and excels in other business ventures.
It has been perseverance and a positive attitude that has seen Antonio’s and Roman Village grow. In the restaurant business, Anthony wisely understood that a good protocol that provides consistency in the quality of food, friendly service in a clean atmosphere at reasonable prices, the business can weather any circumstance. Since 1964, the businesses have sustained a lot of ups and downs, none worse than the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on the world. During the COVID pandemic, Anthony pivoted the five restaurants into war mode, where they offered takeout and curbside service. With its great management team and staff, the restaurants stood with the frontline to serve and feed the community, provided needed support to local hospitals and first responders, took part in keeping the sense of community alive and delivered food where needed while maintaining respect of health and safety rules – all with God’s blessing.
Anthony believes that each restaurant must impact its community in a positive way, making it better for the people who live there. He believes that this would not happen without his family – his mother and brothers all share the responsibilities and run all the locations as one big family restaurant – keeping the quality and service consistent. The reward for this dedication to service and community has been plentiful with regular, loyal customers who appreciate his sense of community, leadership, and family support.
All five restaurants support the community with many events hosted throughout the year. These event include Opera Day in support of the Michigan Opera Theatre; Feast of St. Antonio day by providing complementary lunch buffet and inviting guests to donate what they can, proceeds benefit Capuchin Soup Kitchen and Gleaners Community Food Bank; Festa del Gelato providing free gelato for the community; Breast Cancer Awareness month, where $2 for every pizza is donated to Breast Friends Forever at St. Joseph Mercy Health System; Columbus Day where we honor Italian heritage; Veteran’s Day with proceeds benefitting the Veterans Outreach Project of Southeast Michigan; Benny Napoleon’s Christmas Toy Drive and Lunch with Santa that benefit the kids in the community.
Anthony has been honored to receive recognitions for his work; Frank D. Stella ILICA Community Award (2010), Veterans Outreach Project “Heroes Coin” (2013), and Festa della Republica Italianna – Man of the Year (2015), Arab Chamber of Commerce – First Non-Arabic Businessman of the Year (2016), and the State of Michigan’s Italian Heritage Honor (2021).
The walls of Antonio’s and Roman Village restaurants are lined with photographs of Anthony’s wife and children, parents, brothers and their wives and children, and many lifelong friends. His office walls are displayed with pictures and stories of dignitaries and celebrities that Anthony has come to know. For information on Antonio’s and Roman Village Cucina Italiana restaurants visit antoniosrestaurants.com.
“Don’t get discouraged when life is not fair. “Tiriamo AvantiTM” Always move forward and never settle for less”
The Rugiero's open in Canton.
The Rugiero family celebrates 55 years in business.
The Rugiero's open their newest location in Livonia.
Anthony speaks to the guests at the grand opening of Antonio's Piccolo Ristorante.
Robert, Marco and Anthony at the grand opening of Antonio's Piccolo Ristorante.
Mike and Mamma Rita celebrate with Anthony at the new Piccolo.
HB Warriors family celebrate the opening at Piccolo.
Antonio's Piccolo Ristorante in Livonia.
Roman Village celebrates 50 years in business.
The Rugiero's celebrate 50 years in business.
The Rugiero's raise a toast to 50 years in business.
Antonio Rugiero Sr. and his four boys.
The Rugiero family with Andrea Bocelli
The chariot being raised for the top of Antonio's Canton.
Anthony's children: Vanessa, Adrianna, and Antonio pose with with marble chariot at Antonio's Canton.
Robert, Fr. Jim, Anthony, Msgr. Chuck, and Mamma Rita at Antonio's Livonia Grand Opening.
Pete, Vince, Anthony, and Angel cooking pasta with Bob Ficano.
Anthony visiting the White House with Frank Stella.
Anthony and all the Justices.
Mark, Greg, Ed, Anthony, Brian and Patrick at Antonio's Piccolo Ristorante grand opening.
Steve, Jerry and Anthony supporting Justice Elizabeth Clement's event.
Anthony with the Supreme Court Justices of Michigan
Anthony and Rana Romney.
Anthony introduces Kris Paronto
Anthony speaking with Kris.
Anthony attends the Republican National Convention
Anthony and Mamma Rita at the Republican National Convention.
Anthony and Rudy Giuliani at the Republican National Convention.
Patrick, Mike, Tom, Anthony, Mike and Norm pose for photo.
Anthony with Cheryl and Greg Bill
Anthony with Justices Viviano, Zahra, Bill. Harb - along with Cheryl Bill.
Greg Bill invites Anthony to the podium.
Wayne County Commissioner Bob Ficano, Anthony Rugiero and Mayor O'Reily
Mr. and Mrs. Hathaway with Anthony and Sabrina Rugiero and Tom Celani
Judge Vanhouten, Governor Snyder, Anthony Rugiero and Bill Runco host the first event in Michigan for the new governor.
Anthony, Nello, and Mike supporting a political fundraiser
Anthony is elected to be the 12th District Finance Chair.
Anthony speaks to his constituents.
Anthony along with Justice Brian Zahra
Anthony receives an award for his contributions to the Veterans Outreach Project of Southeast Michigan.
Anthony is a civic-minded member of the community and is actively involved in supporting various political campaigns for Mayors, Judges, Congressmen/women, and Senators. Anthony believes you must get involved to make a difference. He is proud to live in the greatest country in the world and is inspired by traditional American ideals where its people believe in the value of hard work and earning an independent living to support their families and live the American Dream.
Anthony’s late mentor, Frank Stella, inspired him to get involved and make a difference. He instilled the idea that knowledge is power. For over 20 years, Anthony has supported many candidates from both sides of the aisle. He believes in supporting the candidate who has the best experience and qualifications for the job. Anthony is a family man with conservative values and believes that America is the land of opportunity and growth.
Over the years, Anthony’s political endeavors have given him the opportunity to travel around the country and engage with many different government officials, as well as speak at the Capitol Buildings in both Washington D.C. and Lansing, Michigan. One of Anthony’s fondest memories was having the opportunity to dine at the White House with President George W. Bush and Frank Stella.
Anthony believes that his Catholic faith has guided him and his family through many challenges – and he always includes his family and staff in his prayers. At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, when the future was uncertain, Anthony prayed to God. In the morning when he woke, he found a white dove on his window ledge, and it remained for several days. In the Catholic faith, the white dove is a sign of hope. Anthony and his family support many of the churches in the communities that their restaurants serve.
Anthony’s highest honor was receiving an audience and blessing from the three most recent Popes – Pope John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI, and Pope Francis.