Downtown hot dog restaurant Doggystyle showcases culture across the country | arts and entertainment

What makes a good hot dog?

The answer often depends on who you are and where you come from.

Andrew Mincieli was born and raised in New York and has had his answer for years.

“I love a good hot dog with tomatoes and onions,” Mincieli said. “A Sabrett hot dog with a natural gut so when you bite into it, it almost smacks you.”

The problem is, he couldn’t find the exact flavor and feeling when he moved to the Sarasota area years ago. Mincieli started buying ingredients at home and making the hot dogs himself, but it wasn’t the same.

He found a better solution by visiting Doggystyle restaurant in downtown Sarasota, founded by Connecticut native-turned-Sarasota resident Steve DiBio.

The hot dog locale has a specific hook: its menu highlights hot dog styles from specific regions. This includes Chicago, Philadelphia, Texas, Kansas City styles and, especially for Mincieli, a New York style dog that was exactly what he was looking for.

“(The New York hot dog) was exactly what I was used to,” Mincieli said. “If I’m ever anywhere near (DiBio), I’ll grab a hot dog there. You just can’t get a good hot dog here.

DiBio has been tracking hot dog recipes and variations for years.

Having been a minor league baseball player, DiBio wrote down every recipe and variation in approach. He has been collecting these notes for three decades, but it was only relatively recently that he decided to put this knowledge into practice when he opened his restaurant.

Red onion sauce? It’s a New York thing. Anyone from West Virginia to Georgia opts for mustard, chili, and coleslaw, though DiBio notes that West Virginians often add onions while Georgians remove the chili to make it. a salad dog. Memphis dog stores put bacon, barbecue sauce and onions on theirs. And one part of the country that DiBio won’t name likes to eat their hot dogs with barbecued macaroni and cheese.

“We wanted to give (tourists) here a little taste of home,” DiBio said. “People say it’s hard to find good pizza. It’s also hard to find a good hot dog.

DiBio’s family grew up in the culinary world – he started working in restaurants when he was 14 in Connecticut – but his path to amassing hot dog recipes came from a different place. .

He started traveling to the minor leagues where he pitched in 1989.

It took him across the country, and DiBio was keen to see what the different regions he visited had to offer when it came to food.

“I was craving a hot dog (when I was in the Carolinas), but it was just disappointing,” DiBio said. “I started wondering where I could find a good hot dog. … A lot of places only had old boiled hot dogs.

As DiBio went from town to town, he noticed a contrast in the way people cared for their dogs and an even more granular schism about whether meat or trimmings were forbidden.

Some regions like the Carolinas, for example, could have any type of medium hot dog meat, but are heavily dependent on toppings. Other places liked the type of hot dog served and mixed the toppings well.

“Where I was from, the hot dog was king, but people would make theirs differently,” DiBio said. “Over there, nobody knew what dog they were eating but the toppings were quirky. … I ask people if they grew up on the hot dog or if they grew up on the topping.

Massachusetts native Dakota DuBois has missed the New England hot dog style since moving to Sarasota two years ago. He’s been able to taste home since he randomly entered Doggystyle.

“The exterior of a New England-style bun is like bread that can be toasted, it’s not the bulky, round exterior you find in Publix,” DuBois said. “The meat that goes into it just tastes better than what goes into a typical Oscar Meyer. I missed it – that’s what I’m used to.

DiBio attributes much of the variation and influence of various recipes and styles across the country to the cultural impact of immigration that has spread over the decades.

“If you grew up in an industrial area with jobs and immigration, you had 1,000 years of European food culture on your doorstep,” DiBio said. “New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Newark, immigrants came with an integrated customer base and supply chains were built to feed all of those people.”

He doesn’t see Florida having an innate hot dog culture — he says the biggest immigration-based contribution to Florida’s food culture is the Cuban sandwich — but he’s noticed barbecue sauce toppings become increasingly popular.

The demographics that visit Doggystyle have changed as the greater Sarasota area also changes.

Many visitors came from the Midwest — Chicago and Michigan in particular — but DiBio noticed a bigger influx of northerners who requested their own unique recipes as the months went by. And that’s not to mention vegans.

“The hot dog, in some ways, was dying (culturally), but we’re going in a different direction,” DiBio said. “People think it’s interesting.


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