Published on January 24th, 2014 | by Jesse Yancy0
Local Food: Mistilis Cooks on College Hill: Again! (at Delta Steak Company)
If Oxford had a signature restaurant dish, the hamburger steak Angelo Mistilis made at his restaurant on College Hill Road would be it.
Angelo opened the restaurant in May, 1962, five months before James Meredith entered Ole Miss, and closed in 1988. His menu featured dozens of items, but first and foremost was the hamburger steak with potatoes. “You could have it regular, you could have it with onions, you could have it with just cheese, or you could have it all the way,” Angelo said.
“The hamburger steak was on the original menu, the hamburger steak with cheese and onions came in a little later, in the mid to late Sixties. We used about nine tons of fresh ground beef a year. I had a butcher that got my hamburger meat with all the trimmings, and I got some from James Food Center,” Angelo said. “We always served it with hand-cut home fries. We’d use around 1200 lbs. of potatoes a week and two fifty pound sacks of onions. The cheese was always sliced American.”
Angelo and Allen Sanders, owner of Delta Steak Company, plan on bringing the famous hamburger steak, along with its creator, back for an engagement on Jan. 28 and 29 at The Delta Steak Company on College Hill Road, which is housed in the same building as Mistilis’ Restaurant. (Update February 3, 2014: Angelo Mistilis is now serving his famous Hamburger Steaks every Tuesday at Delta Steak Company.)
“When I was beginning to work on getting the Delta Steak Company, everyone I talked to would have something to say about the place when it used to be Mistilis’,” Allen said. “Even after we opened, we had many customers that would come in and recall the old days when Angelo used to cook in the front. Many of them had very memorable experiences of him, their 16th birthdays and such, and whenever people would talk about it, they would almost get this stare as if they were going back in time, and could remember everything.”
After discovering that he and Angelo had a mutual friend, Allen said he got him to contact Angelo. “Mainly because I just wanted to meet the guy,” Allen said. “I have a lot of respect for him. I mean the fact that someone had a dish that people are still talking about after fifty years, that really says something.” Allen said that when he first met Angelo they talked for the better part of an hour, mainly just talking about food and cooking, and Angelo told him stories about the history that has gone on in and around the building.
“About a week ago, Angelo showed up out here,” Allen said. “We had talked about the possibility of him coming out here to prepare some of those old dishes for some of the locals who still remember them. Naturally, we decided to go with the world famous hamburger steak and onions. He also told me he has never taught anyone how to do it, but that he was going to teach me. That was almost like a ‘passing of the torch kind of thing,’ and I am honored that this Oxford restaurant legend has chosen me to pass along this secret recipe. Though we will not be using the original griddle, we will be using the griddle I have here that has been in this restaurant for over ten years.”
“I plan on cooking some,” Angelo said, “and that was part of what I wanted to do and what Allen wanted to do was to offer the original hamburger steak cooked by the guy that used to do it in the same place he used to do it, and we’re going to serve it on a paper plate in a wicker basket just like we used to.”