By Sophia Ricco
It’s easy to feel like a kid in a candy store as you feast your eyes on the displays of sweets at Northport Sweet Shop, but you can find much more than candy at this local eatery.
With almost 90 years in business on the Main Street, the restaurant is a staple of the community. Opened in 1929 by George Panarites with his uncle and cousin, the shop lives on through his son, Peter Panarites. He recalls working in the shop since he was a child with his father, helping him to mix chocolate, flip burgers and churn out ice cream.
He is not the only one with fond memories, many residents have been going to the Northport Sweet Shop for years to satisfy their sweet tooth or grab a quick bite to eat.
“I’ve seen a lot of kids come in the 1940s-50s,” Panarites said. “And then they get married, have their kids and get old then their grandchildren are bringing them in.”
Those who frequented the Northport Sweet Shop many years ago will be delighted to find the atmosphere has remained the same. Panarites has maintained the vintage look by keeping the original tile floors, baby blue booths and classic overhead lights. The biggest remodel he’s ever done was in the kitchen, which he expanded and updated with all new, top of the line equipment.
“In 1985 I did a complete overhaul,” Panarites said. “I kept the basic stuff but what I wanted to do was to bring it back to where it was.”
The Northport Sweet Shop serves casual, fast food style dishes that make for a perfect brisk bite while in the village. During the warmer months, you can find many kids running in to get chicken fingers and leaving with a smile.
The plates come out promptly and though simple, are full of flavor. Panarites has considered adding more complex dishes to the menu, but ultimately decided it was best to stick with what Northport Sweet Shop does best. The restaurant is famous for their burger bar and sandwiches, particularly the BLT and tuna salad. The tuna fish salad sandwich ($13) is proof simplicity can be fruitful. The flavors feel like comfort in your mouth.
It’s likewise evident why the BLT sandwich ($7.75) is so popular with crispy bacon, juicy tomatoes and leafy lettuce contained in toasted layers. We recommend ordering this during the summertime, when Panarites uses fresh tomatoes that he grows in his backyard.
“When you pick them right, they’re nice and juicy and that makes the sandwich,” Panarites said. “You can’t beat fresh stuff when you pick it right from the vine.”
A burger is a great choice in any season with fresh meat sourced locally.
“I get it from a local butcher and I’d rather run short then buy a lot and freeze it. You lose the texture, when you freeze meat,” Panarites said.
The cheeseburger with fries ($7.50) is classic.
No trip to the Northport Sweet Shop is complete without a taste of their homemade ice cream and candy. George Panarites was known for his love of chocolate making, particularly the decorated hollowed eggs he would make for Easter. For Christmas, the shop will make chocolate Santas.
“When people make chocolate, there’s a lot of different ways to do it… We always keep the quality. My father always said, quality trumps everything, you don’t compromise quality,” Panarites said.
The peanut butter sundae ($7.75) has two scoops of ice cream topped with peanut butter, Reese’s pieces and whipped cream. Absolutely scrumptious. It is clear why the Northport Sweet Shop is a happening place to grab a cone.
“One thing I can say in all my years of business, I have the best customers in the world,” Panarites said. “The kids in this town are tops.”