On a chilly spring day, three of the regular “Food with Friends” friends missed our fourth friend, brought along another friend, and met up with an old friend for a fabulous dining extravaganza at Hattiesburg Country Club.
Have I lost you yet?
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.
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 “retail-ville,” 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.
Isabel Laguna is originally from Guanajuato Mexico. She learned all of her cooking skills, like most Mexican chefs, from family traditions. Carlos Molina is originally from Rio Grande City , Texas. Similarly, he was trained by family traditions, but passion for food and work experience all joined to help him create new mixed recipes. Both chefs work side by side to bring traditional and new flavors to Hattiesburg. Through food, they both feel they create unity not only with customers, but in the community.
Food With Friends is the perfect way to describe these nights, because my close friends Jamie, Brittany and Allison aren’t the only ones involved. My friends are also behind the scene – offering some well-crafted meals in a sensational atmosphere.
This time I have the opportunity to write about my friend, Carlos Molina.
Some people judge towns by their population. Others judge them by amenities such as parks and playgrounds. Many consider school systems and tax policies.
I judge towns by the quality and longevity of their small independent diners and cafes.
For 94 years, the Coney Island Café has defined my hometown of Hattiesburg, Mississippi.
Arthur Fokakis, the original owner, emigrated here from Greece in 1923.
He got his start by selling fruit from a pushcart parked under a large shade tree near the railroad tracks on Main Street.
What’s one ingredient that you can't live without? Greek yogurt
What’s your favorite type of music to listen to when cooking? JJ Grey & Mofro or Widespread Panic either or is alright by me.
If you could cook for anyone, dead or alive, who would it be? John Daly – I feel like he’d love a Pepperjack Gyro and the stories would be great!
What’s your favorite ethnic cuisine? Mediterranean
Martha Mixon, right, is a native of the Sanford/Union Church communities just up Hwy. 49 North. She and her husband, Tommy, have two children, six grandchildren and one great-grandchild, but they consider their entire staff as family. They started the business in 1984 and with the exception of one five-year hiatus, they’ve been keeping customers happy on the side of Hwy. 49 for a long time.
What’s one ingredient that you can't live without?
What’s your favorite type of music to listen to when cooking?
Opened in 1984 as a fruit stand, Shady Acres Village has seen a lot of changes through the years.
And while the family business has modernized with the times, you can still find long-standing recipes and traditions within its walls. Located just north of Hattiesburg on Highway 49, Shady Acres is worth the drive, especially considering that the journey is practically red-light and traffic free, which is a novelty in the Pine Belt these days.