By Sophia Ricco
The Dix Hills Diner has all the elements of a classic diner, from retro decor to a massive menu, but the restaurant sets itself apart with a focus on diverse flavors.
In the seven years since owners Peter Giannitsas and Michael Akapnitis opened Dix Hills Diner, the eatery has become a staple of the community. It serves as a meeting place for families, business partners and friends. Through a chance-meeting, the partners expressed a desire to open a diner of their own.
“His experience is very different from mine,” Akapnitis said. “He was more front-end and marketing, dealing with customers, while I was always back-of-the-house, making the food. We are a really good match, with what each of us bring to the table.”
Akapnitis had a long-history with diners, as his father owned the Brookville Diner in Nassau.
“If you don’t love being in the diner, it’s just not for you,” Akapnitis said. “I started at the age of 14, working for my dad as a busboy. Working at a diner at such a young age instills a work ethic in you. It also helps you talk to people and opens you up, because you really don’t have a choice.”
Through collaboration, they crafted an extensive selection of dishes that span from breakfast to dinner. They are constantly finding inspiration while dining out, as well as in cook books and shows.
The Dix Hills Diner does carry classic eats like buffalo wings ($11.99). Allowing customers to choose the spiciness, hot sauce and chunky bleu cheese sit on the side. The crisp wings had delicious skin and a meaty inside that came off the bone with ease.
“We put our own spin on traditional items,” Akapnitis said. “We try to keep things as authentic as we can, but at the same time, it’s the 21st-century, we gotta upgrade.”
The Dix Hills Diner offers new specials on a weekly basis. If a dish garners popularity, it will become a “staple item”. Giannitsas will often give Akapnitis ideas, then he figures out how to make it happen. The grilled chicken balsamico ($19.99) is a favorite with many customers. Fresh mozzarella oozes over chicken, spinach and mushrooms, making it a decadent delight.
“By offering the specials, we offer something unique,” Akapnitis said. “You can go to any diner and order a burger or scrambled eggs. But I think our specials menu helps us stand apart, we’re offering restaurant quality in a diner setting.”
They take pride in making food in house, ensuring all of the ingredients utilized are top-notch. The greek salad ($13.49) is a hodgepodge of Mediterranean eats featuring crumbled feta, bursting grape tomatoes, crisp cucumber and peppers, and rich black olives. But what really shines are the grape leaves. Their soft inside is perfectly seasoned and not salty.
“We buy the best quality products we can, in order to produce the best food,” Akapnitis said.
Akapnitis describes their cuisine as comfort food that many have grown attached to. The mac and cheese cheddar cheeseburger ($13.99) will make stomachs happy with fried mac and cheese bites that give it a childish feel. They find many college students return home eager to eat at the diner.
“Even though, it’s not cooked by their mom, it’s that home-cooked meal,” Akapnitis said. “It’s what they’re used to, because that’s what they grew up eating.”
Looking forward to the summer months, they plan to incorporate fresh fruit and produce into dishes and desserts. They have sweet selections like signature cheesecake or Reese’s cheesecake from Akapnitis’ collection of recipes. Like many diners, the Dix Hills Diner welcomes customers from all walks of life.
“It’s the full gamut, we attract everybody,” Akapnitis said. “I think that’s because everyone feels comfortable here.”
Dix Hills Diner
1800 E Jericho Turnpike, Huntington
Cuisine: Comfort food
Atmosphere: Casual and retro
Hours: Sunday-Thursday, 6:30 a.m. - 12 a.m.; Friday-Saturday, 6:30 a.m. - 2 a.m.