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Cafe Roma - Bridgeport - Disappionted with the town, not the dinner.

I live in Fairfield, CT and because of our kids (3 and 5 years old) we don't get out as much as we used to. I've always said I want to try more Bridgeport restaurants, but if our dinner this past Wed was representative of the city, I'll stick to Fairfield, Westport, and Norwalk for the dining scene. Here is what I wrote after our dinner:

I was very disappointed in our Café' Roma experience…. not for the food, but for the lack of attendance. This isn't a critique of Roma's reputation, as all the restaurants on the street (two boots, eperney (sp?), joseph's, etc) seemed empty.
We arrived around 6:30 pm and sat at the bar for a drink before dinner. Not only was the restaurant empty, so too was the bar area. We were the only people there.
We proceeded to order 2 glasses of wine and this is where the majority of my disappointment lied. There was no list available of by-the-glass options and when we asked what was available we got "Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, Sangiovesse", etc. No producer names, no price quotes.
We would find out later that there was also no bottle options available for ordering when we sat down for dinner - - it was by-the-glass only. We ended up trying the Pinot Grigio (decent, good temperature) and the Montepulciano (decent, a bit too warm). The glasses were large and well filled and the prices were reasonable, but having a bottle selection (even a small one) for dinner would have been nice.
For the food, I started with a salmon-cake appetizer over greens (special) and Liz had the fried zucchini (menu item). The 2 salmon cakes were well portioned and flavorful; they were very lightly packed and not dense which helped preserve the ingredient quality. The zucchini were also well cooked - lightly breaded, lightly fried - again preserving the ingredient quality; the red sauce served with it was also nice, with a tiny hint of underling heat. Both were very good and we were excited for our main courses: breaded chicken (menu item) for my wife and a veal in mushroom sauce special for myself.
My veal dish was great in all respects. The meat was tender and properly cooked, the mushrooms and sauce were very flavorful, and the accompanying roasted potatoes were perfect for wiping up the sauce. Liz's chicken wasn't bad by any means, but it wasn't outstanding either. It was a good dish, but probably could have been just a bit more tender and a little less fried/sautéed. It came toped with sliced raw tomato, uncooked mozzarella, and drizzled balsamic vinegar. The only dish we didn't like was the side of pasta (ziti) in red sauce that my wife ordered. We weren't ordering any pasta dishes as part of our appetizer/entrée choices, so we wanted to get a small pasta side for evaluation. The pasta was cooked properly, but the sauce was just a bit too generic and a bit over-sauced. Some of the pasta entrée's on the menu sounded great, so I wouldn't really let this "side dish" sway me from ordering one in the future.
By the time we left, we only witnessed 2 other tables that were seated and maybe 3-4 people pop in for a quick bar drink. All in all, I was very disappointed with the dining traffic in Bridgeport.

Food Grade: B+
Wine Grade: D-
Bridgeport Dining Scene: F-

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  1. Unfortunately, Bridgeport is not a dinner destination, especially on a weeknight. This same location has traffic at lunch. I spoent this week on jury duty at Superior Court about a block away. These restautants do business from 12-2 and die. There is NO after work drink action.

    Bridgeport is a filthy, rundown, depressing city. There is some good ethnic food on Madison Ave, but I avoid going into Bridgeport to eat more than 2 or 3 times a year.

    1. Bridgeport isn't exactly a "go-to" destination for food. I've never even heard of the places you mentioned!

      5 Replies
      1. re: sibeats

        Really?
        Joseph's is one of, if not the highest rated steakhouse in CT. The NY Times even reviews Joseph's every year or so.
        Also, I don't always trust Zagat, but they give Joseph's a 24, Roma a 22, and Two-Boots a 21... nothing to sneeze at.

        1. re: foleyd7

          Sorry...I've lived in Westport for 45 years, never heard of any of those places. I'm not saying they aren't good, I just never heard of them. We don't go out to steakhouses, so maybe that's why. But I read the NY Times reviews every week...strange but true...

          1. re: sibeats

            Here you go guys. Little jfood was taken there on a date last year (no surprise it is an ex-BF). She said the steak was outstanding

            http://www.josephssteakhouse.com/

          2. re: foleyd7

            Thank you! I guess some people just do not get out much. Stamford, Norwalk and Westport are not the only places to find decent food.
            Bridgeport has some amazing places...I mean right around the corner from the others... Ralph and Rich's and Roberto's. I also hear they are putting in a brewery nearby as well. Two Boots has great entertainment and good food. Not to mention there are others...NYC....although, from what I hear, BPT is the better of the others. Don't snub Bridgeport dining unless you have some basis to go on.

            1. re: lvtocook888

              it's so sad. There is clearly an effort to revive Bridgeport and turn it into more of a dining destination, but it can't seem to shake it's reputation.

        2. No surprise. How long have you lived here? Josephs is an old time steak house but no need to deal with the town for a steak.

          3 Replies
          1. re: jfood

            I don't understand. Why would anyone expect Bridgeport to have good dining? It's a dump, and I believe in receivership, plus nearby towns have great restaurants.

            1. re: gerchak198

              I think you are missing the point. The restaurant was very good, as are several in Bridgeport.
              It is the dining scene of the city itself that is lacking. I was expecting a busy early seating - - some of the same after work crowd that normally fills the places for lunch.
              And as for why someone should expect Bridgeport to have a good dining scene, well they are a city with great diversity across many ethnicities. Having that much diversity should put them in much better position to deliver a wide range of foods moreso than places like Westport and Fairfield (where I'm from). Know why NYC is such a great dining scene? Partly because of the huge diversity. (Now please don't get me wrong.... I'm not trying to compare Bridgeport to NYC in terms of a dining scene, I"m just making a point that working cities have a broader range people which SHOULD lead to a broader range of cuisines and restaurants).
              Maybe its just wishful thinking on my part..... I like the concept of city dining where you can grab a drink at one place, walk to dinner at another, and then walk for dessert and coffee at yet another.

              1. re: foleyd7

                i have to agree , i lived in Bridgeport for 2 years , then moved to stamford. bridgeport has pockets of good areas and bad. unless you live in the black rock area there is no restaurant/bar scene. Half of the down town is delapitated and rundown, not dangerous .. i don't know ..i guess it's just done . sad because the city has a great history. when you drive down town you can see what it used to be. There are a lot of great restaurants in bridgeport of all levels, you just have to know where they are

          2. Bridgeport, an old manufacturing city, has seen its factory jobs evaporate and has experienced a lot of white flight. To refer to the entire city as dilapidated and filthy, as some posters have, is inaccurate at best and certainly unfair.

            One of my favorite places there is Taco Loco, in Black Rock. I also liked the feminist restaurant Blood Root. Other places I'd like to try (but haven't yet) are Miss Thelma's (southern food) and Mommie's Patties (West Indian).

            I'm hoping that this thread will inspire some of us (me, included!) to post more often about Bridgeport restaurants from the small places to the steak houses.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Miss Sue

              I love Ralph 'n' Rich's in downtown bridgeport across from the pt barnum museum. The area around it is neither filthy nor unsafe and there is plenty of parking. I will drive out of my way for lunch or dinner there. Great raw bar, huge bar with great beer selections, and tasty italian and american specialties. And the prices are ridiculously cheap though bear in mind that i am used to paying westchester prices.

              1. re: biga290

                My husband and I frequent Cafe Roma during the week for an after work drink. I believe it is now under new management. When we went there last week they had pasta with a meat sauce and mussels for happy hour food. The drinks are always fantastic and the food is delish. I hear that the theater next door is opening soon as well!

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                Cafe Roma
                269 Fairfield Ave, Bridgeport, CT 06604

            2. It is true that Bridgeport, even with its extensive waterfront, has long defied any efforts at revitalization (mostly because of incompetent leadership), but restaurants do not honor town borders. There are very good restaurants in the Park City (Joseph's is certainly one of them), but where or not they constitute a scene, I don't know. I'm not a scene-maker, just a humble diner. I think a scene requires a certain self-awareness that Bridgeport just doesn't possess right now.

              2 Replies
              1. re: coldduck

                Few people realize Bridgeport ranks as the biggest city in Conneciticut, larger than Hartford, New Haven or Stamford. (that could change with the new census, since BP is hardly a boom town.) The city's culinary claim to fame is that it was once home to the Frisbie Pie Company, whose tins became the eponymous first "Frisbees" ... and hometown of the first Subway sandwich shop. Beyond that, Connecticut's most populous city is more a destination for drugs and trouble than fine dining.

                nb. Bereket Turkish Restaurant --a hole in the wall behind a gas station has been getting some play on the boards. Need to try that, esp. since it's maybe easy off easy on 95.

              2. There's just not enough confidence in Bridgeport yet - especially downtown. The last time I went to grab a bite to eat at Two Boots I noticed a couple of crack-masters outside panhandling…definitely not a positive sign. That being said, some of my favorite restaurants are in Bridgeport (I like cheap-eats) - Blood Root, Bereket, Terra Brasilis, Halados Vazquez before they shut down. I've heard that people from out of state actually visit Blood Root because of its reputation. Black Rock is very nice along Fairfield Ave – I’ve heard most of the restaurants there are good.

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                Terra Brasilis Restaurant
                1282 North Ave, Bridgeport, CT 06604