With the opening of Rock City Dogs in Bay Shore, the frankfurter ascends to headliner status, with an accomplished backing band playing classic rock.
While The Rolling Stones and The Knack hum in the background (and sometimes seep into the foreground), customers can groove on nine dogs, eight of them inspired by the owner’s favorite musical acts. There’s the basic Thin Lizzy, topped with nothing but mustard and sauerkraut, and the inevitable Chicago dog, served exactly as it would be in the Windy City, complete with "imported" neon relish and sport peppers on a poppy-seed bun. The deep-fried Springsteen dog is inspired by one created in the Boss’s home state and the Deep Purple is topped, of course, with red-beet-tinted pickled cabbage, as well as whipped goat cheese and pink peppercorns. Dogs range from $6 to $10 except for the eponymous Rock City Dog, the VIP of the menu, which goes for a cool $40. It’s topped with lobster, whipped horseradish, Champagne mignonette and caviar and comes with RCD potato "star tots," which are shaped like five-pointed stars.
The rest of the menu (e.g. Paul McCartney & Wings, Fleetwood Mac & Cheese, Strawberry Fields salad, T Rex burger, Styx fries) and the cocktail list (Comfortably Numb, Life on Mars) follow the same beat.
The restaurant, which opened May 11, sprung fully formed from the mind of Steven Vollmer, now an insurance consultant but, in the '80s, a nascent rock and roller whose band Design for Living toured the country and cut an album. (Other than on legal documents, he still goes by his stage name, Stevie Reno.)
Two years ago, Reno was flipping through a coffee-table book, "Rock Covers," while he was half paying attention to a Travel Channel episode about the best hot dogs in the country. "I have a great idea," he announced to his wife, Vina. "I’m going to open a restaurant that plays only classic rock from the '70s and serves craft hot dogs." A few days later he came up with the name, "Rock City Dogs," and promptly trademarked it.
Vina came on as a partner, as did Stephen Bennett, an old friend and bandmate since their first group in high school (Parental Guidance Suggested) and Tom McGiveron. They took over a former dentist’s office and, with the help of the East Rockaway-based design firm, Dallago Associate, transformed it into a shrine to rock and roll, with guitar frets framing the bar, and album art accenting the sleek space. Even the menus are designed to look like album covers.
In their zeal to create a knock-your-socks-off venue, Reno and his team did not neglect the kitchen. The menu was created by longtime pal Jonathan Contes (co-owner of Mosaic in St. James) and it is executed by chef Scott Kanter, who selected Feltman’s of Brooklyn to supply the 100% beef, natural casing hot dogs. For now, Rock City Dogs serves dinner seven days a week and an all-day brunch on Sundays. Lunch will be added shortly, as will a "Dog Dash" takeout window.
Rock City Dogs is at 3 E. Main St., Bay Shore, 631-876-2530, rockcitydogs.com.