History

The network of BiCE restaurants spanning the world began 90 years ago in Milan, Italy with Beatrice Ruggeri—also known as “Bice.” She was the first child in a family of 10 and had to help her parents raise her younger siblings as if they were her own. They lived on a farm where all had to work on the land and help with chores and she learned a lot of things that would help her create her future. For years she was encouraged to open her cucina (Italian for “kitchen”) to the public as she was known for her extraordinary culinary skills, hospitality and personal warmth.

In 1926, when her husband Gino asked her to move to America with him, she decided that she would rather try a city like Milan so she could stay close to her family. Bice and Gino agreed to open a trattoria—loosely translated as a friendly gathering place with a farm-to-table approach to dining and service. With Bice in the kitchen and her brothers and sisters serving in the dining room, il ristorante “Da Gino e Bice,” or BiCE as it would later be known, had a family feeling. The first customers said it was like being at the home of a friend, just as Bice hoped they would.

As Milan emerged as a European fashion and banking center in the 1970s, BiCE’s Milan location was embraced by a new international clientele that included the continent’s reigning designers. In a city where understated elegance is the norm, word spread of the restaurant’s stylish interiors, the Tuscan origins of the food and of Bice Ruggeri’s unwavering commitment to satisfying her clients. Bice was now a recognized Milanese restaurateur and her sons, Remo and Roberto, were taking steps to extend her vision throughout the world.

In the early 1970s, Remo and Roberto took a more active role as they ventured into learning all they could about the restaurant business. They managed to stay true to their mother’s vision of BiCE Ristorante being an inviting place where friends and family could come together and feel much as if they were at the home of a friend. BiCE Milano remained a flourishing local establishment throughout World War II and is enjoying more than nine decades of success located at Via Borgospesso 12, Milan, Italy. In 1978, Remo and Roberto took the first steps to give BiCE an international cache, opening a second BiCE location in Porto Cervo on the island of Sardinia where Prince Karim Aga Khan had just established a playground of sorts for international socialites, celebrities and other affluent world travelers. It wasn’t unusual to find royal families in addition to members of the Agnelli and Kennedy families dining on the same night. This international destination was a good match for the BiCE brand of hospitality and for contemplating future locations.

With its international business base and customer mix, New York City was the logical site for the next BiCE Ristorante. On July 12, 1987, Roberto Ruggeri decided to open the first BiCE Ristorante in the United States on 54th Street between 5th and Madison Avenues in Manhattan, New York. It was an astounding overnight success. BiCE brought a new type of authentic Italian cuisine and style to New York City and a new destination for people “to see and be seen.” The design, by Adam Tihany, incorporated elements of the acclaimed original BiCE Milano interior to achieve a fresh, yet urban look. The menu was a skillful mix of traditional and newer trends in Italian cuisine. BiCE’s unique style of hospitality was regarded as the key to the success of that New York location. BiCE New York was the most popular Italian restaurant in New York City for many years, and was featured in Martin Dorf’s famous Restaurants That Work book alongside all-time classic eateries like Spago, Smith & Wollensky and Tribeca Grill.

Although the original plan was to open one restaurant, the number of openings multiplied: New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, Paris, Palm Beach and Tokyo all in the short span of three years. Up until that point, international restaurant chains were confined to fast food restaurants and a few steakhouses, but BiCE confronted and overcame the challenge by creating a unique global image. At the root of BiCE’s entrepreneurial approach is the desire to offer its guests the possibility to identify themselves with the restaurants, the food we prepare and the same atmosphere around the world. Our regulars make up an elite club that span the globe and know that BiCE Group is always there when they want to enjoy themselves.
Typically, restaurants are identified by their owners or their chefs, but the BiCE Group and their dedicated teams have succeeded in creating an aura around the name of their restaurants that transcends staff and ownership.

In 1993, the need to diversify BiCE’s services in order to accommodate the changing tastes of their guests became apparent. With the help of Bice Ruggeri’s now-grown grandson Raffaele Ruggeri, the company introduced new theme-related restaurants to appeal to all kinds of customers alongside the tried and true BiCE formula.

In 2009, BiCE Group proudly introduced BiCE Mare in Dubai, launching a seafood-focused twist on the original BiCE concept. BiCE Mare was put in a category by itself, focusing on seafood with a table-side service approach and live cooking stations. The new venture brought BiCE’s commitment to quality and attention to detail to a new audience with astounding results. With rising popularity and an award-winning attitude, BiCE Mare continues to impress the fine dining world. Following the successes of a number of locations in Florida, including Miami, Palm Beach, Naples and Orlando, the company decided to open a couple of more contemporary locations on the West Coast of the United States. BiCE San Diego opened in California in 2010 while BiCE Scottsdale opened in Arizona in 2012. BiCE San Diego went on to win the Gold Medallion for “Best Italian Fine Dining in San Diego” in 2012.
Also in 2012, the BiCE Group created its newest concept—Pizza Milano—expanding our values and qualities into the quick-service food sector, offering high-quality, freshly made pizza catering to the on-the-go consumer under a concept of “fresh, fine fast food.” Pizza Milano allows for a personalized creative experience combined with a delicious Neapolitan-style pizza made in under two minutes.

BiCE Group’s continued focus is on furthering its reputation as the premier Italian restaurant company in the world. This is accomplished through planned expansions in strategic locations and countries, and the continuous improvement and monitoring of each element of our operations. As we establish new restaurants, BiCE remains committed to positioning each concept and location as a very welcoming place where friends and family come together for a skillfully prepared and authentically Italian dining experience—just like they did in Bice’s kitchen in Milan in the 1920s.

Courtney StubbertHistory