A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from October 01, 2018
Steak de Burgo

Steak de Burgo is a steak dish popular in Des Moines, Iowa. It was invented (or popularized) by John Compiano (1920-1984), who served it at his Johnny and Kay’s night club that opened in 1946. Compiano was in the Coast Guard and was stationed in New Orleans during World War II, and he might have discovered the dish served there.

Steak de Burgo consists of beef tenderloins in a basil, garlic and butter sauce.


Wikipedia: Steak de Burgo
Steak de Burgo is a steak dish and a regional specialty in the Midwest, specifically Des Moines, Iowa. The dish usually consists of a beef tenderloin either topped with butter, garlic, and Italian herbs, or served in a sauce consisting of those same ingredients.

Wiktionary: burgo
Noun
burgo
(plural burgi)
1. borough, burgh, market town

March 1971, Better Homes and Gardens, “Splurge or save with steak, pg. 87, col. 1:
Steak de Burgo
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried basil, crushed
2 slices beef tenderloin (4 ounces each)
2 large fresh mushrooms, fluted
2 slices French bread, toasted

In heavy skillet, melt butter or margarine over medium heat. Stir in garlic and basil. Sprinkle tenderloin slices with a little salt and freshly ground pepper; add to skillet along with fluted mushrooms. Pan broil steaks over medium-high heat for 4 minutes each side for rare doneness, 6 to 7 minutes each side for medium. Serve one tenderloin atop each slice French bread; pour on pan drippings. Top each with a fluted mushroom. Makes 2 servings.

3 February 1984, Des Moines (IA) Register, “Obituaries,” pg. 7M, col. 1:
JOHN COMPIANO
(...)
Mr. Compiano was a lifelong resident of Des Moines. He was former operator and owner of Johnny and Kay’s, which was sold to the Hyatt House hotel chain in 1968; Poppin’ Fresh Pies, which joined with Pillsbury Co.; Gianni’s Beef ‘n’ Pasta, sold in 1980; and the Husker Restaurant, sold at around the same time as Gianni’s. He was a member of St. Theresa’s Catholic Church and the National Association of Culinary Chefs. He was a Coast Guard veteran.

4 September 1997, Des Moines (IA) Register, “Datebook Diner” by W. E. Moranville,
Leafing through a 1964 Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook, “Famous Food From Famous Places,” I found Steak de Burgo featured as a specialty of the house at Johnny and Kay’s in Des Moines. I asked Tom Compiano, son of Johnny and Kay, to tell me about the origins of the dish.

“My father brought the recipe up from New Orleans, where he was stationed during the war,” Compiano says. “Whether he discovered it there or invented it himself, I’m not sure, but when he opened Johnny and Kay’s in 1946, it became a popular house specialty.”

1 November 2001, Des Moines (IA) Register, “A Cake talk and an art walk in this issue” by Doug Peterson, pg. DB2:
Dining mysteries
Steak De Burgo -that’s one of those menu items I’ve wondered about since moving here more than six years ago.

Thanks to dining critic and food sleuth W.E. Moranville, the mystery is solved. Seems a certain chef developed it at a local restaurant, and his proteges duplicated the masterpiece as they went onto other establishments.

24 April 2002, Des Moines (IA) Register, “Savor the flavor of fine dining on Fleur Drive” by Tom Suk, pg. AT1:
More training was done to turn out an authentic Steak de Burgo, that Des Moines-created style of specially marinated prime cut of steak.

“We had taste-testing groups, some of them who were regular customers at Johnnie’s Vets Club and Johnny and Kay’s, help us. They are experts on Steak de Burgo. We think we have got it perfected,” Shepard said. “There is no doubt you need a Steak de Burgo to do a good steakhouse in Des Moines.”

Legend has it that former Des Moines restaurateur Johnny Compiano created the dish and served it at his restaurant, Johnny and Kay’s, where it became a hit. Cooks apprenticing in Johnny’s kitchen later opened their own restaurants and served their own versions. The steak in a garlic butter sauce soon became a popular Des Moines dish.

28 August 2003, Des Moines (IA) Register, “Note to Gino’s: Don’t go changing” by W. E. Moranville, pg, DB12:
TOP OF THE HEAP: Steaks here are top-notch aged cuts, and the kitchen nails the temperature every time I visit. Go here for a classic Steak de Burgo, Johnny and Kay’s style (tenderloin in basil, garlic and butter sauce), or an immensely flavorful top sirloin.

Google Books
A Culinary History of Iowa:
Sweet Corn, Pork Tenderloins, Maid-Rites & More

By Darcy Dougherty Maulsby
Charleston, SC: American Palate
2016
Pg. ?:
Campiano added that chefs who worked for his father would often take the recipe with them when they opened places of their own. Hence the proliferation of Steak de Burgo in Des Moines, the theory goes. Another famous Des Moines restaurant, Johnnie’s Vet’s Club, had its own version of the entree. While Johnny and Kay’s and Johnnie’s Vet’s Club are gone, Steak e Burgo can still be found on many Des Moines restaurants’ menus, from Tursi’s Latin King to Johnny’s Italian Steakhouse.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityFood/Drink • Monday, October 01, 2018 • Permalink