Doggone Good Time

Dis & Dem


by Jamie Massengale
with Allison Neville,
Brittany Pur vis and Evan Curry

First impressions are important.

You never get a second chance to make a first impression. In a sea of restaurants off Highway 98, in what I like to call “retailville,” there is a place I’ve always said I would try, but had yet to finally check it out. Well, I’m happy to report that I have finally eaten at Dis & Dem, and I’m kicking myself for not trying it sooner.

It was the Sunday of St. Patrick’s Day weekend, the day after the big parades in Jackson, Nola and Biloxi, and the Food With Friends group was hungry (some possibly hung over). The weather was a little dreary, but a perfect day to check out brunch at Dis & Dem. As Brittany and I walk in, I was greeted with the sounds of Jessie Howell playing music inside. All the doors were opened and despite the rain, it felt nice outside.


I’ve been driving by this aqua blue building with pink accents for too long and now I was finally getting to see it up close. I absolutely love the feel. The décor and the atmosphere are great. To put it lightly, I would say Dis & Dem feels comfortable. One might even say it feels New Orleansy. With a nice bar, a vibrant menu board up behind the register, Nola art and photos on the hallway wall, I definitely am feeling those Big Easy vibes. There are numerous televisions and I imagined this would be a great place to come watch a game and enjoy a bite.


Upon arrival, Brittany and I decided to go over the menu before J. Evan and Allison showed up. I was blown away at the variety and variations on the menu. One does not simply go to Dis & Dem to be basic. No, no, as there are so many different options when it comes to French fries, hamburgers and hotdogs. We told Mike, the owner, that we did not really know what to try, so he helped us out big time. Once everyone was there, we decided to start off with an appetizer platter to try what Dis & Dem has for starters. Mike brought us a tray slam full with deep fried goodness. We sampled jalapeño poppers, crawfish bites, alligator bites, chicken tenders and Southwestern eggrolls. Allison said the crawfish and alligator bites were some of her favorite appetizers we sampled. I love Southwestern eggrolls and jalapeño poppers.


Dis & Dem offers many variations on fries (like a baker’s dozen worth of different variations). We sampled the Hangover Fries that come topped with cheese, bacon, two fried eggs and sriracha sauce. These fries weren’t messing around. That kick from the sriracha and all of the breakfast accoutrements made for a super tasty experience. Sandy fries at D&D come with crawfish etouffee and chicken while the Frank N Fries come with chopped-up burger patty, hotdog, cheese and a barbecue glaze. Talk about flavor! Dis & Dem is bringing it on the fries. Once we made a happy plate of the apps, it was time for the real fun to begin. It was time to start with the main attraction at D & D. We were ready to sample the goods. Mike said we had to try the Hawaii 5-0 burger (as Mike put it, “It’s our mack-daddy!”). We also sampled the Buffalo Chicken Sandwich, the Swamp Dog, the Eagle Dog, Nola Dog and the Pacific Dog. Again, I don’t think I have to tell you that Dis & Dem has so many variations, they have something to fit everyone’s flavor profile.


Nola Dog – Do you like crawfish? This is a hotdog with crawfish étouffée, tomato and onions. This particular hotdog was one of my favorites because the way the étouffée married with the hotdog bun. It, like everything we sampled, was delicious. Swamp Dog – This creation is something straight out of the swamp, featuring alligator and more crawfish etouffee, then topped with guacamole. The sheer look of this dog reminded me of the bayous of Louisiana with that awesome flavor from the gator. You eat this dog and you’ll be talking like one of them folks from Breaux Bridge. Eagle Dog – Do you like Eagles? Cause this dog brings a sweetness that will have you flying high and singing some sweet melodies. The Eagle Dog’s uniqueness comes from the raspberry sauce that is drizzled over the top with mustard. Allison and Brittany really enjoyed the sweet notes this dog provided. Pacific Dog – Do you like fish sticks? Well, this “dog” is actually cod and was a serious, sleeper favorite (as J. Evan put it) of the FWF. Dis & Dem hit us with a beer battered, golden-fried fish “dog” topped with in-house-made tartar sauce. One of the things I liked about the Pacific Dog was the lightness and crispiness of the fish. It’s definitely worth checking out if you like fish sticks.

The sheer look of the Swamp dog reminded me of the bayous of Louisiana with that awesome flavor from the gator. You eat this dog and you’ll be talking like one of them folks from Breaux Bridge.


with friends
Join the dinner conversation
as we eat our way
through the Pine Belt


To end our amazing Sunday Brunch at D&D, Mike treated us with their signature beignets. We got to try two different types of these New Orleans-staple pastries. First, we sampled crawfish beignets, a much more savory variation than the standard beignet. Then we ended our meal with a bang and a puff of powdered sugar as we indulged in the traditional beignets. It was a perfect finale to another delightful Food With Friends experience. Go check out Dis & Dem in Hattiesburg at 11 Lake Forgetful off Hwy. 98 across from Academy Sports. They have a Facebook Page and you can find their menu on their website at


Michael Petitto, 54, is originally from Amite, La., where he owned and operated his family’s restaurant, Spitale’s, from 2002-2012. Spitale’s was originally opened in 1921, by Sam Spitale, Michael’s grandfather. Michael is the son of the late Frank and Frances Petitto. He is married to Lori Petitto of Amite, La., and they have a total of six children combined. Michael has four adult children – Michael, Chris, Andy and Kasey. Lori has two adult daughters, Christine and Mikki. They have four grandchildren, Peyton, Cameron, Ty, and Olivia.

Crawfish Étouffée & Nonna Petitto’s Spaghetti Gravy
  • 1/4 lb butter
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 1lb crawf ish tails
  • 4 T flour
  • 2 c water
  • 4 chicken bouillon cubes
  • 1 can golden mushroom soup green onion tops, chopped parsley, chopped
  • salt, cayenne & black pepper to taste

Melt the butter in a heavy large skillet and sauté vegetables 30 minutes. Add seasonings to taste followed by crawfish tails. Sauté for a minute then stir in flour. Continue sautéing for 3 minutes. Add golden mushroom soup, water, chicken bouillon, and optional green onions and parsley. Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. Add about 1/2 a teaspoon of cayenne pepper, and a few generous splashes of Tabasco to give it an extra kick. Serve over rice and with garlic bread.

  • 6 small cans tomato paste
  • 1 container of seasoning blend
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 1 t garlic powder
  • 1 t onion powder
  • 1 t basil
  • 1 t oregano
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1 c sugar
  • olive oil for sautéing

Sauté the seasoning blend and garlic in olive oil until tender and onions are clear. Add the tomato paste, turn heat to low and stir until mixed well. Continue to “brown” the tomato paste , stirring constantly. Add 4 cans of water for each can of tomato paste and stir until mixed well. Add all of the other ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for an hour then add meatballs of your choice. Continue to simmer for another 2-3 hours stirring, leaving top on the pot, but not shut tightly. Serve over your favorite pasta with Italian cheese and garlic bread.

What’s one ingredient that you can’t live without? Tony’s & Garlic.

What’s your favorite type of music to
listen to when cooking? Oldies.

If you could cook for anyone, dead or
alive, who would it be? My mother
and father.

What’s your favorite ethnic cuisine? Italian.

What’s the strangest request you’ve ever had from a diner? Cook with no seasoning and no bread.

What’s the best part about being a chef? Creativity.

What’s the most challenging part of being a chef? Time limitations.

If not a chef in the Pine Belt, what city would you like to work in? New Orleans.

What’s your favorite “guilty pleasure” food? Strawberries and chocolate.

Who is/was your food mentor? My mother.

What’s your favorite food to cook? Italian, burgers and dogs.

Sweet or savory? Savory.

Mild or spicy? Mild.

Wine or beer? Beer.

Salt or pepper? Pepper.

Red beans or gumbo? Can’t live without either.

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