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Bright Lights, Amazing Food: Joseph's Steakhouse is Part of Bridgeport's Renewal

By S. Mathur

Bridgeport, CT is coming back to life. Once a decaying port city, it is again becoming a destination of choice for housing, entertainment and dining. With its historic downtown and waterfront, and excellent commuter links to nearby cities, there is a growing demand for housing in the city center. Joseph's Steakhouse, located in the heart of this downtown area, is an important anchor of this revitalization.

Joseph Kustra, owner of Joseph's Steakhouse, describes it as a Bridgeport landmark. In fact, Kustra is a bit of a fixture himself. Born in Croatia seventy-five years ago, he moved first to France and then to the United States. He was determined to achieve the American dream, and has done so many times over. Working in various restaurants, including the legendary Peter Luger Steakhouse in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, he learned the business from the basics up. He left Peter Luger after fifteen years to start the successful Tollgate Steakhouse in Mamaroneck. In 2000, he moved to Bridgeport to open Joseph's Steakhouse, which rapidly established itself as one of the best in Connecticut.

Kustra promises diners "a quality NY style Steakhouse with old world atmosphere and elegance. Generous food portions, generous drink portions and excellent customer service."

The decor is old-fashioned and solid, a suitable setting for the food. The menu is focused on quality. Joseph's Steakhouse serves USDA prime dry aged beef. The signature porterhouse steak inspires poetic reviews and a dilemma: should it be enjoyed in its own perfection or accompanied with Joseph's signature steak sauce? Bottles of the steak sauce are available for sale.

The excellent customer service is emphasized with the complimentary breadbasket and waiters' recommendations to try the bacon appetizer, grilled extra thick. The menu also offers grilled salmon, chicken, and perfectly cooked vegetables. It's always a good idea to leave room for dessert. The chocolate mousse cake and creme brûlée are especially good. A wide selection of wines, including many from Kustra's native Croatia, complements the food.

The location, in a former police station close to the on-ramp of a major highway, is symbolic of the fast-changing city. Like Kustra and Joseph's Steakhouse, Bridgeport's revival has progressed by honoring the past. Landmark buildings like The Bijou Theatre, one of the first motion-picture theaters in the United States, are renovated and incorporated into multi-use downtown developments, rather than being torn down to make way for giant chain stores.

Joseph's Steakhouse regularly features in the annual lists of the best steakhouses in Fairfield County and all of Connecticut. Kustra says: "We are happy to be in Bridgeport. We have great relationships with the city and the community...It's a great city and is growing fast. We are proud to be a part of its growth, and have now been here for over 14 years to watch it change from quite a depressed city to a place where people want to be, work, live and play. It's all very exciting!"

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