In Brooklyn, he built pizzas for 22 years in various restaurants, learning more as he went along.
"I'm providing something (to Sacramento) that I grew up with," he said shortly after opening the first Giovanni's, when he posed for the accompanying photo. "Fresh, from scratch, no shortcuts and the finest ingredients from New York and Italy. It's the old school way."
Next month will be a good time for a taste test. To celebrate the 10th anniversary of his Folsom Boulevard restaurant, Ruffaine is rolling back the price of his large (16-inch) cheese pizza from $17.95 to $9.95 at both his stores.
"If you add your favorite toppings, it's a good way to get a great deal," he said.
The rollback program will run through June at the two Giovanni's pizzerias in Sacramento: 5924 S. Land Park Drive, (916) 393-7001; and 6200 Folsom Blvd., (916) 455-8831. Vist Givanni's on Facebook.
We've eaten more than our share of Giovanni's pizza over the years, and have witnessed Ruffaine pounding pizza dough with such concentration and commitment that his staff is told he is not to be disturbed while he's working it. Which could be funny if it wasn't so earnest.
If you're not in the mood for pizza, the Sicilian roasted chicken from a family recipe is a winner ($9.95 whole, $5.95 for a half). The from-scratch lasagna is also tops, made with ricotta and mozzarella cheeses, fresh tomato and ground beef ($11.95).