Ruffino’s Spaghetti House Hopes to Open Soon

by ARLnow.com March 29, 2011 at 3:58 pm 3,349 56 Comments

Ruffino’s Spaghetti House (4763 Lee Highway) may re-open in a week or two.

The restaurant closed for renovations in September, and loyal customers have been asking when it’s going to re-open ever since. Owner Robin Gamzeh says he hopes to open as soon as next week — if county inspections go well.

Outside and in, nearly everything about Ruffino’s appearance has changed. The exterior is brand new and the interior is completely revamped. One thing that hasn’t changed much is the restaurant’s menu. Gamzeh says everything from the original menu will still be available, with a few new additions.

Gamzeh says the re-opening was delayed several months after a contractor discovered a 5-6 foot basement crawl space while doing plumbing work. The basement, which Gamzeh did not know existed, had to be reinforced in order for renovations to continue.

  • Lou

    They really uglied-up the outside of that place.

    • AllenB

      I like the exterior… kinda looks old and new at the same time…. nice.

      • Lou

        To quote one of my studio professors “the sophomoric bricolage of a dilettante”

        • AllenB

          Then don’t go. But no need to be insulting to a business owner who has obviously invested a lot of money to improve their establishment. Just because you know big words doesn’t mean you have to be a douche.

          • Lou

            FINE I WON’T GO!

          • John Goilios

            Kids, please! No fighting in the house or your dad is going to have to get the belt.

          • V Dizzle

            No spaghetti for you!

          • Lou

            Who am I kidding. We’ve been going there a couple times a year since around 1980. Not likely to stop now, even though that facade is terrible. I’ll just point it out every time I go back.

          • TGEoA

            He wasn’t insulting the buisness. He was insulting you.

          • AllenB

            Wrong… read it again, DB.

          • Lou

            Are you sure about that? Those are pretty big words.

          • AllenB

            Yup, I’m pretty sure that “They really uglied-up the outside of that place.” is insulting to the owners.

          • TGEoA

            Always have to have the last word? Such a little man

          • AllenB

            Not really.

        • borf

          It’s tough to know so much more and have so much better taste than the masses, huh Lou?

          • Lou

            Not really

          • borf

            Then why all the bricolage? It’s sophomoric.

          • Lou

            See above.

  • JamesE

    5-6 foot crawl space? Perfect for an underground garage.

  • CrystalMikey

    Now I kind of want spaghetti for dinner.

  • G. Clifford Prout

    Holy mackerel, Andy! No burger/pizza/cupcake place?

  • And Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares does these renovations in one evening. 😉

  • Swamperro

    Question is: will the food advance beyond the mediocrity that it was before? We already have plenty of choices for average to ‘enh’ Italian fare – read Pines o Plenty, Joes, etc. When is a homemade pasta resto coming to Lee Hwy?

  • Carb addict

    I was happy until I heard the menu would stay the same. I went once and would rather get unidentified fried stuff from 7-Eleven than go back.

  • ernie.

    There are loyal customers here?

    Haven’t been back in ten years – used to be very mediocre and definitely not worth paying to go out to eat spaghetti.

    • SoCo Resident

      This is the second article in which ARLNOW references the mysterious “loyal customers” of Ruffinos. Yet, most comments indicate this place was mediocre at best. I walked in, took a look around and walked out, fortunately. Will the remodeling somehow improve the food? New chef maybe? Generally, Arlington’s faux “Italian” restaurants are not very good.

      • Do you doubt that a restaurant that has been in business for many years has loyal customers? I have gotten seven questions about Ruffino’s, which would seem to indicate that some people care enough about it to ask about it.

        Just because you’re not a fan doesn’t mean that everybody else shares your point of view.

        • AllenB


        • That’s gotta be 7 more than the Carriage House.

          • Lou

            Hey now, don’t rag on Essy.

        • SoCo Resident

          ARLNOW, Gamzeh appears to have only only been in business here for 4 years, not “for many years” as you so erroneously state! And, not since 1975 as the sign says. You state you have received seven questions concerning this restaurant; are you certain they weren’t from relatives and friends of Mr. Gamzeh – to drum up interest? In addition, your comment to me “Just because you’re not a fan doesn’t mean that everybody else shares your point of view” seems unnecessary and journalistically unprofessional especially since many reviews have deemed the food mediocre. I walked out because I do not patronize faux Italian restaurants. Others have hinted at what motivates you to be so enthusiastic about some restaurants, e.g. Mad Rose, and to be SO defensive of them if you are only reporting on them in unbiased manner! Do you have financial interests with these places? I would recommend you adopt a more professional manner.

          • Aaron

            Perhaps you should stop frequenting this site before you totally lose all connection to reality. You’re really starting to sound rather deranged in some of these posts.

          • BackAfter20

            Disagree. Ate there several times back in 90-91-92. Loved the spaghetti w/ mushroom sauce. Went there again last year — not as good, but still the same place I remember from 20 years ago when I lived right around the corner.

      • mehoo

        Yeah, mediocre restaurants never have loyal customers. Everyone has excellent taste, and the money to buy the best food available. Nobody patronizes restaurants you don’t like. :rolleyes:

      • PikeHoo

        ARLnow has obviously been funneling in its vast profits to keep Ruffino’s afloat for the last 36 years. Nice work, Kojack.

    • laloca

      i’ve never had the spaghetti there, but i’ve found ruffino’s to be more reliably good than, say, restaurant 3.

  • wava_2

    The interior looks nice, but the garish stone facade looks horrible–it’s all kitsch. They should’ve kept it simple.

  • SouthArlJD

    The story about the basement reminds me of the dream I’ve had of one day stumbling upon a full basement, complete with bathroom, in my cramped little house. I told my kids about the dream and it turned out that all three had variations of it, too.

    • borf

      Sounds like you should start digging.

  • DT

    I am shocked they had the money to do all this work and be closed for this long. I went once and was not impressed with any of the food.

  • DL

    I’m really disappointed they didn’t keep the old neon sign – it had character.

    • PikeHoo

      Agreed. I liked the neon sign too. Whether you like the renovation or not, good for them for trying to update the joint.

  • Rebecca

    Fresh Paint. New interior. New Exterior. Alas, I’m sure the food will still be just as horrific as it’s always been.

    • AllenB

      You’re such a ray of sunshine.

  • South A-town

    Wow- such snarky comments… if you people think this place sucked and you know better than them & have better taste in remodeling jobs… why don’t you stop your whining and put your money where your mouth is.

  • Mark

    Happy to trade slightly garrish exterior for interior where I don’t have to worry about plaster falling into my food before I can get it out the door. Heck, we might even eat in for a change. It may not be 100 best worthy, but a neighborhood spot with good prices and a fast kitchen isn’t the end of the world. Some who bemoan the loss of such things say that places like that are what make Arlington a community.

  • Black Flag

    Wow, Arlington is not going to knock down a neighborhood spot for more condos and pizza joints.

    • AllenB

      Correct. And yet the whiners/complainers are still whining/complaining.

  • Mick Way

    It had a couple of reliably edible entrees. Facade is really bad.

    I want to know what will become of the Alpine across the street. Word is the Liberty Tavern/Lyon Hall guys bought it.

    • They did, but they’re still not saying what they’re going to do with it.

      • y8s

        I hope it is the long-awaited replacement for Tap & Vine. I need me a place to call home that has a beer list that takes longer to read than the menu.

        Incidentally, I count myself among the “one and done” customers of Ruffinos. The decor was shabby-quaint and that didn’t bother me. The quality of the food was just not worth the trip and the house wine was pretty bad too. Doesn’t matter how good it looks if the problem is the food…

      • laloca

        actually, only one member of the Liberty Tavern/Lyon Hall team bought Alpine – it wasn’t purchased by the group. and he’s still not sure what he’s going to do with it.

  • anon2

    the pizza is actually really good and cheap too compared to Lost Dog and the other “gourmet” pizza places in ARL

  • SoCo Resident

    Do Arlingtonians frequent Ethiopian places run by non-Ethiopians, Chinese restaurants of non-Chinese, etc, etc? Why do Arlingtonians frequent so many fake “Italian” restaurants run by non-Italians?

    • AllenB

      Why the hell do you care so much about running down a mom and pop restaurant that has just invested money in a redo? Did your meds run out this morning or are you always the big skunk at the party?

    • NoCo Resident

      Do you honestly think that only someone of a particular race/ethnicity can cook good food of that type? Really?


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