Let’s just say the brand-new Dang BBQ in Islip isn’t Anthony Mastrantonio’s first rodeo in restaurants — or barbecue.
Anyone who’s visited an Islip street fair would recognize the wood cabin trailer of “Bulls I BBQ Catering,” whose roots are traced to Mastrantonio’s Port Royal Grill on Main Street.
Mastrantonio sold that restaurant at 591 Main Street in Islip (now Pizza Parm) in 2012, but he kept his smokers.
That’s how he got his Bulls I barbecue catering company under way.
“And Bulls I was the precursor to this,” he explained.
Mastrantonio and his daughter, Taryn Sheehan, a 2015 graduate of Islip High School, opened the doors to Dang BBQ on July 25.
They operate Dang with Mastrantonio’s daughter-in-law, Taylor Cianciotto of West Babylon, as well as nephew James Posillico of East Islip. And the wait staff had already been friends.
Dang BBQ is located in the former Artisans Eatery at 174 Islip Avenue.
Mastrantonio started talking with Artisans Eatery owner and friend Donna Trapani over the winter about selling, and the property changed hands in May.
Only cosmetic changes needed to be made to turn Artisans into a barbecue joint.
That, and coming up with a menu, of course, much of which breaks the rules of barbecue. (When you master the rules, you’re allowed to break them.)
Take the Jurassic Pork. It’s a grilled burrito with pulled pork, mac n cheese, bacon and baked beans and barbecue sauce.
“It’s quickly become the go-to over here,” he said. “A lot of people are ordering that.”
The menu reads that it’s a “a sandwich 65 million years in the making”
Even the burger gets taken to another level, the owners say.
It’s layered with Smoky Mountain cheddar and gouda mac and cheese, topped with chopped BBQ brisket, sliced jalapenos, onion rings and melted cheddar and habanero hot BBQ sauce.
It’s called the Texas Cowboy Burger.
“We have a little bit of a background,” Mastrantonio laughed.
The 1989 Islip High School graduate has been in catering full-time ever since taking over his father’s then-30 year catering business in 1993 after graduating Florida State.
Mastrantonio and his family have dined at dozens, if not hundreds, of barbecue joints in the South for decades — since his college days in Tallahassee.
“Before that, like most Long Islanders, I thought barbecue meant hot dogs and hamburgers,” he said.
Then he tried some of that slow-cooking. And it was on.
Since the 1990s, anytime the family visited the South, whether to visit relatives or dropping the kids off at college — Alabama or Mississippi — all Mastrantonio could talk about was getting some “dang barbecue.”
“I actually bought the [domain name] DangBBQ.com five years ago,” he said.
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The other star at Dang is going to be their very Instagram-friendly milkshakes, spun by Sheehan, whose been working on the recipes since before Dang BBQ opened.
She was inspired during a trip into Manhattan and seeing the shakes being made there.
“I would have my friends over and they would come and try them and tell me what’s good and not good,” she said.
What’s good is now on the menu, and that includes The Candy Shop (pictured below), which is made with either strawberry, raspberry or cherry ice cream, with sprinkles, cotton candy, a lollipop and rainbow cookies.
Sheehan says her dad, who operates Marconi Manor in Islip and other halls, had her helping out from an early age. She went from polishing silverware and folding napkins to later working the coat rooms and waitressing.
“I grew up in the business,” she said.
Aside from the food, at Dang BBQ, the goal is to offer something that’s been dwindling on Long Island, Mastrantonio says: cool family friendly restaurants that don’t turn into bar scenes at night.
Dang BBQ will be closing at 9 p.m. on weekdays and 10 p.m. on weekends.
“It’s been unbelievable,” he said of the early response. “People have been waiting for us to open and the support has been great from the community.
“Everybody wants us to be here and wants us to do well.”
Top (L-R): Julia Price, Jessica Hagelmann, Taylor Cianciotto, Anthony Mastrantonio, Taryn Sheehan, Kristen Warnokowski and James Posillico at Dang BBQ on Wednesday.
Photos by Michael White