The dish on Long Island's restaurant and food scene
Dairy Queen's royal entrance in Massapequa
It’s opening day at Dairy Queen Grill & Chill in Massapequa and the people standing in line are poised to attack frozen Blizzards (soft-serve reduced-fat ice cream laced with cookies, fruit or candy), ready to dive into GrillBurgers dripping with cheese.
While this isn’t Long Island’s first Dairy Queen ever, for now it’s the only one — and the first Grill & Chill franchise, which goes beyond the basic burgers and cones you order at a takeout window. So you can have an iron-grilled turkey panino with a banana cream pie Blizzard while lounging near the contemporary brick fireplace.
“This is so exciting,” says Rebecca Kapica of Massapequa. “I can drive five minutes and not three hours to Dairy Queen; I don’t have to be on a road trip.”
It's a time trip, of sorts, for Marshall Clements of Levittown. To him, Dairy Queen is all about the comfort food of his childhood near Pittsburgh. After a Heath Blizzard and a vanilla cone, Clements notes the spacious digs. “We’re not used to seeing a fireplace in a Dairy Queen — not in our era, anyway.”
Michelle Barenz of Huntington has seen Dairy Queen commercials on TV for years. “Why don’t we have one?” she remembers thinking. She and her friend Krystina Aizic of Commack find gratification in two kinds of Blizzards.
What keeps the Blizzards and burgers coming is an efficient system; order at the counter, take a number and, first, the grill fare is delivered; later come frozen desserts.
Taste testing reveals more ups than downs. On the downside, burgers are done only one way — medium-well — and fries are pretty tasteless. But the Flame Thrower GrillBurger — two 1/4 pound patties with a spicy sauce, Pepper Jack cheese, jalapeño-infused bacon, lettuce and tomato — has a pleasant smokiness plus a mildly fiery kick ($7.79 for a combo with a drink and fries). A grilled chicken sandwich with lettuce, tomato and mayo ($4.69) is moist, savory. And a chocolate Blizzard with double fudge cookie dough has clean, intense flavor. ($2.69 mini size)
“I'm breaking my Weight Watchers points for a week,“ says Kapica.
Dairy Queen Grill & Chill is at 5366 Sunrise Hwy., Massapequa, 516-308-4682.