Ruffino’s may be the most recommended restaurant in Baton Rouge.
While living in the Capital region for the past three years, countless co-workers and friends have recommended we try the Italian and steak dining establishment for a special occasion.
And now we know why. On our first trip to the restaurant, we were impressed by the menu’s variety, the wait staff’s attentiveness and a few lighthearted, fun touches.
Opened in 1998, Ruffino’s has the atmosphere of a classic steak house, with dimmed lights, wood paneling and walls filled with LSU football photos and memorabilia and other black and white photos.
The parade of waiters and waitresses tended to every need. They showed a deep knowledge of the menu, and they never left a water glass empty.
While perusing the menu, we munched on soft, freshly baked bread dipped in a mixture of Italian cheeses, olive oil and a selection of herbs, what our waiter called their “bread and butter.”
For an appetizer, we considered the old standby, Ruffino’s famous crab cheesecake, a savory quiche with jumbo lump crabmeat, Italian cheeses, and Creole Meuniere and Hollandaise sauces. But we could not resist the shrimp corn dogs ($13.95), the most whimsical appetizer on the menu. These are jumbo Gulf shrimp battered in sweet cornmeal and served with a spicy mustard sauce.
They were just plain good. The shrimp were meaty and the batter was sweet, like the best county fair corn dog you’ve ever had.
The menu offers a variety of Italian entrees, steaks and seafood. A friend recommended I try the tasty prime ribeye cap ($36.95) — as it is called on the menu. It’s often called by the more anatomically correct, the spinalis. When I ordered, the waiter made sure I understood this was not a prime rib. Instead it is a delectable piece of meat that wraps around the end of a ribeye.
Each bite of the ribeye cap was a delight. It was soft and marbled, but not chewy, and melted in my mouth. A sauce that tasted like a light gravy perfectly complemented the cap. Served with crisp green beans and roasted potatoes, the portion size was just right.
My wife tried the lasagna ($17.95), made of fresh pasta sheets, a slightly sweet meat sauce and ricotta, parmigiano and provolone cheeses. It was very satisfying and perfectly cooked, without the too-crispy corners and overdone cheese that often accompany lasagna. However, it did not stand out.
For dessert, I went with my sweet tooth, which wanted a brownie and ice cream ($7.95). While Ruffino’s is known for its light and airy tiramisu, sweet bread pudding and two options of creme brulee, the white chocolate brownie with vanilla bean ice cream sounded too good.
All the ingredients — the ice cream, the fresh, soft, brownie and the chocolate drizzle — worked to create a tasty dessert. None of the parts was too sweet, and all complemented one another.
While waiting for our check, we received another dose of whimsy — complementary purple cotton candy. Their take on the ballpark and fairground treat is inspired. Light and soft, it melted in our mouths with the hint of a bubble gum taste instead of the instant cavity sugar rush I normally associate with cotton candy.
It was a fun end to an enjoyable meal.