Angus Steakhouse celebrates 60 years in Fairfield
Combining their Italian heritage and premier choice cuts of certified Angus beef, pork and chicken, brothers Joe and Steve DiBartolomeo have honed the perfect recipe for success at the Angus Steakhouse in Fairfield.
Dubbed the "longest running steakhouse in Fairfield," the Angus Steakhouse recently celebrated its 60th anniversary. Since its opening on Mother's Day in 1950, by James "Cozy" Dolan, Angus Steakhouse has attracted diners from the local community as well as notable celebrities, including the late Paul Newman and Jason Robards.
The Dolan family owns the property where the restaurant and several other retail outlets reside. However, back in 1950, the Angus Steakhouse was the beginning of the strip mall and, essentially, the birth of Black Rock Turnpike's thriving business community, Steve said.
According to the restaurant's folklore, when Dolan reportedly announced plans to open a restaurant in the then desolate Black Rock area of Fairfield, he was told that no one would patronize the steakhouse. However, the restaurant was, indeed, a hit.
Not only were local celebrities drawn to the fine food and drink but in the 1960s, members of the New York Giants stopped in for a meal after practicing at the football team's training camp, located back then at Fairfield University, Steve said.
The two brothers took over the Angus Steak House three and a half years ago, with Joe heading up the kitchen as chef and Steve assuming managerial duties. After spearheading an extensive renovation -- including upgrading electrical, plumbing and building materials -- they opened their doors with a completely new interior. The main dining room evokes a feel of a traditional New York-style steakhouse with its dark mahogany walls and wall-to-wall, plush carpeting.
"We wanted to bring back the feel of what the Angus Steakhouse was like in the 1950s by choosing a décor that had rich, dark tones," Steve said.
The atmosphere in the restaurant's bar, though, is considerably more relaxed. As they enjoy one of the 12 draft beers available, or perhaps a glass of wine, customers are encouraged to order tavern fare -- such as salads, baby back ribs and one of the restaurant's specialty items, an "Angus Burger," which is served on an English muffin. Big screen televisions offer the opportunity for sports fans to keep up on their favorite teams as they wind down.
Both brothers have been in the restaurant business for more than 30 years. As owner for 12 years of the Grille House in Stratford, Joe has demonstrated a distinct culinary talent for producing savory recipes for Italian favorites, from eggplant lasagna and grilled pork served with broccoli rabe and cherry tomatoes to Chilean bass.
"My brother is known for a number of his specialty dishes," Steve noted. "People will ask us to call them when he puts certain items on the menu. The other night he made about 15 to 20 orders of Osso Buco and we sold out."
The restaurant likes to create their menus based on seasonal produce that they purchase at local farms. Steve said, "Another popular dish Joe makes is pork tenderloins with an apple cider demi-glaze. We use the fresh cider made at Silverman's Farm in Easton."
Accompanying a platter of pasta are tasty meatballs that are, of course, made from a recipe that was passed down from the brothers' now-deceased father. "Customers come in and say that they know their wife makes the best meatballs but these are even better," Steve said.
He added, though, that they don't tell this to their spouses.
Growing up in a household in Bridgeport with 10 siblings, the DiBartolomeo brothers spent a great deal of time creating dishes made with whatever was available in the kitchen.
"Italians don't eat to live; we live to eat," Steve said, smiling. "Eating is a major event in any Italian household."
They bring this passion for food to the Angus Steakhouse.
"We are a steak house but we also get a lot of people who come in for our fresh seafood dishes," Joe added.
Any of the grilled meats, including Angus beef and pork, could be made in the "Giambotta" style, which is served with sautéed onions, mushrooms and cherry tomatoes in a demi-glaze sauce.
The Angus Steakhouse is located at 2133 Black Rock Turnpike. For more information, call 203-331-1646 or log onto www.thenewangus.com