Eight Things You Can Learn From Raffaele Ruggeri

From the pristine white tablecloths to the creamy banquettes, pale butter walls and custom lamps, every square inch of Raffaele Ruggeri’s Bice Ristorante is staged for crisp style. Glossy black-and-white blocked chairs and smooth Brazilian cherry and maple floors (six dark planks followed by two light planks) are Ruggeri’s trademark design. Last spring, Ruggeri brought his signature style to Dallas’ Hotel Crescent Court with his 25th Bice Ristorante. His $60 million restaurant empire started in Milan with a trattoria, which his grandmother opened in 1926 and where Ruggeri spent much of his time from age 7 on.

Photo by Dan Sellers
USE WHITE PLATES
The shape of plates is very important. Also place pale desserts on colored plates. White plates bring out the color of the food itself.

EVERY SEAT IS BEAUTIFUL
When you come in, the design sets the tone. It’s the first sense before the plate arrives, before a glass touches your lips. Every seat should be a beautiful seat. A mirror behind the banquette helps open it all up so that you are living the experience.

COOK CREATIVELY
In Italy, we always eat a little pasta, a little fish or meat, a little salad-all two times a day, every day, so it’s no wonder we have to be creative.

WATCH THAT HANDBAG
There is an Italian saying that goes, "when you put your purse on the floor, all your money runs away.€VbCrLf That’s why I always use purse stands; they’re perfect for keeping women’s handbags off the floor.

ROLL UP YOUR SLEEVES
At 21, I was going to all these places-Singapore; Buenos Aires, Argentina; the Middle East-working in our restaurants. The employees looked down on me until I rolled up my sleeves and went to work. To be a captain, you have to have experience. In the dining room, I am very involved. I set the pace. I give the example. Everybody works with me, not for me.

PAMPER YOUR FRIENDS
Having people come to your restaurant is no different than having people come to your house. Make people feel comfortable and help them recognize that when they come to you, they will eat well and be well taken care of.

FOOD IS LIKE CARS
In Italy, we think we invented design. It’s part of our culture. Even our cars are better looking. Food is no different-it’s so complicated! Maybe we go overboard. For me, design is a total lifestyle.

WHEN IN DALLAS
Dallas is a lot like Rome-beautiful, friendly people who have good taste and dress well.