Ruffino’s opening Lafayette location

Ruffino’s, the popular Highland Road restaurant, plans to open a Lafayette location in mid-April.

Ruffino’s on the River will be located on Camellia Boulevard in River Ranch in a building that is currently occupied by Cochon Lafayette. Cochon is set to close on Feb. 10, said Ruffin Rodrigue, who co-owns Ruffino’s with chef Peter Sclafani III. Rodrigue said he has been intrigued by the Lafayette restaurant market for a number of years.

The success of the Lafayette location of Baton Rouge-based Walk-On’s was also an eye-opener, he said.

“People have been asking me for a while when we would go into Lafayette,” he said. But Rodrigue and Sclafani wanted to wait until they had the right staff in place in Baton Rouge. “Peter and I will be going to Lafayette to help out, so we wanted to make sure we had the staff in Baton Rouge to offer the same great food and great service,” Rodrigue said.

Ruffino’s on the River will have the same menu as the Baton Rouge location — steaks, seafood and Italian dishes. The restaurant will be on the Vermilion River.

“It’s one of the prettiest restaurants I have ever been in,” Rodrigue said. “There’s a patio, a beautiful bar and a wood-burning stove.”

Cochon Lafayette was founded by Donald Link and Stephen Stryjewski, both James Beard-award winning chefs who had a lot of success with New Orleans restaurants. Link announced this week he was closing the Lafayette restaurant to focus on his Crescent City properties.

Rodrigue praised Link and Stryjewski, but said Cochon Lafayette’s menu was “so eclectic and so upscale.”

“There was no steak or fish on the menu,” he said.

Ruffino’s opened in 1998 as DiNardo’s, a venture between then LSU football coach Gerry DiNardo and restaurant owner T.J. Moran. The name changed to Ruffino’s in 2001, an Italian spin on Rodrigue’s first name. In 2010, Rodrigue and Sclafani bought Moran out.