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French dressing on pizza in Biloxi?

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  • tom82 May 26, 2008 07:10 AM

I recently read somewhere that it is popular in Biloxi Mississippi to pour french dressing on pizza slices. Does anyone know if this is true and how this came about? Is it just a Biloxi thing?

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  1. Tom,

    I grew up in that part of the country, and cannot recall anyone doing French dressing on pizza. We frequented many pizza restaurants, chain, mini-chain and stand-alones, and I've never seen this, nor have I even heard of it. Still, I've been gone for a very long time, and items of cuisine can change. I'd never heard of "deep fried turkey," or turducken, and I lived in NOLA for years.

    Maybe a Biloxi local will chime in and educate us both,


    4 Replies
    1. re: Bill Hunt

      I'm originally from Biloxi, Ms. The tradition started at Hugo's restraunt on Division street in Biloxi. Everyone went there for Pizza. The tradition grew. When Domino's came to town they learned that they had to provide small packs of catalina dressing with their pizzas on request. Even in Pizzahut there are bottles of French or Catalina dressing on the tables.

      I know live in Slidell, La. Nobody in Slidell does it. People look at my family and say "Hey, you must be from Biloxi" when they see us put french dressing on our Pizzas.


      1. re: mullet

        My wife is from Gulfport, and she has put French dressing on pizza ever since she was in college- in Hattiesburg! She graduated in '87...

        Odd that she didn't hear about it when she was on the coast, but when she returned to Gulfport all of the pizza places provided the dressing.

        It is really good by the way...

        1. re: Clarkafella

          Wow, it migrated from Biloxi up to Forrest County. Thanks for adding a date to this, as it tells me that I left the Coast, before the trend likely started. Guess it was them "young whipersnappers," who started this...

          Interesting how local trends can start, and then migrate to other locales. My guess is that enough Biloxi folk were at USM and brought this with them. Unless things had changed by then, 90% of my college meals were pizza - the rest being Ritz crackers with Peter Pan Crunchy Peanut Butter. This, until I'd go home and my parents would insist that I get a "decent meal," and take to over to New Orleans for a "feeding."



        2. re: mullet

          Hugo's eh? My first pizza, and I can still remember the fiaschi (straw-covered Chianti bottles) with the colored candlewax drippings. First apartment that I had, was filled with these...

          OK, enough of me, and back to Hugo's. It was the '50s & '60s, but I do not recall this condiment being used. I'd guess that it was something that happened after my last visit. I have never heard of it, but want to say thanks for putting a geographic pin in the map for where it started, and verification that it is relatively common there. Would guess that someone brought in a bottle and it became a trend.

          About the same time frame, there was a little bar/restaurant on Courthouse Rd. (or was it Cowan Rd.?) in Gulfport, called Elsie's. A friend from the UK introduced me to malt vinegar on my fries. Elsie's had the best fries, that I have ever had. One day, I brought in a bottle of malt vinegar, and in no time, other patrons had emptied it. Brought in another, and another. Finally, Elsie's started keeping a bottle behind the bar.

          Mullet, if you come back to this thread, I've a Biloxi food question: are you old enough to remember Alamo Fried Chicken? By memory, it was only a block, or so East of Hugo's. I started a thread (Home Cooking) trying to pull together the recipe for that wonderful fried chicken. Like Elsie's fries - best I have ever had. I'd guess that they closed by the mid-60's. If you do recall them, and have any ideas (or any family members have any ideas) I'd love to hear them. Link to that thread: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/509111

          Thanks for the info, and hope you can help me with the Alamo Fried Chicken recipe,


      2. I first visted Hugo's when I was in high school in the 60's. There I found a squeezy bottle of french dressing on the center of the table, which I decided to try on my pizza at the urgings of my friends. I have used french dressing on my pizzas since that time. I always have a bottle on hand at home and have been known to order a side order of french dressing when I eat pizza out. I now live in Northern Virginia, and have urged several individuals to try it on their pizzas throughout the years. Most of them like it very much. I would also add that I never use it on my salad!

        1. I'm from NC but we used to do this when I was in elementary school -- for some reason the french dressing was delicious on those rectangular school issue pizzas.

          1 Reply
          1. re: toolprincess

            I must say that ANYTHING would have helped the school pizza, unless it was much better than what we were served. The bread was hard. The sacue was something I can't describe. I don't think they heard of cheese. Don't recall any toppings. It was filling though, so I give props for that. A good nap would have been a nice follow up on pizza lunch day. Usually it was math class instead. Wonder why my math is not so good?

          2. It's been generally known that the use of French dressing on pizza started at Hugo's. I started going there way back when. All the other pizza places now have it too. Hugo's had terrific pizza..I can't you why it tasted so good..it's unlike ANY I've ever had anywhere else. Thin crust and just unique. Unfortunately..as time went on ..not sure..maybe late
            70's or early 80's someone bought it..and it wasn't anything like the original. Which is why no one went there. Btw, the original person...Hugo..he died a few months ago (I think). Was in the local paper, The Sun Herald. ( sunherald.com ). Between Hugos (I think it's been demolished..not certain), Baricev's fried shrimp (where Beau Rivage Casino is now) and Angelo's Spaghetti and Meat Sauce dinner (where Vrazel's is now)..you have all of my favorite things to eat. Unfortunately none are still around.
            Handlebar Henry

            2 Replies
            1. re: HANDLEBAR

              I was in school at USM in Hattiesburg as early as 1980 and there was always french dressing on the tables at Pizza Hut. That was the first I'd heard of it - I'm from "up north" in Jackson and we would Never do that. However, it was delicious and I always think of french dressing now when I eat pizza.

              1. re: HANDLEBAR

                As mentioned above, I knew Hugo's back in the '50s and also knew the others. I fondly recall Baricev's, when they were at the Biloxi foot of the old Ocean Springs bridge. Not sure if even parts of it are there now.

                Still, I cannot recall the FR dressing. Maybe I was too early in the history of Hugo's to get that, or maybe I just never noticed. My last was probably in about '64. Do not know how that might figure into the timeline.

                Special question for Handlebar Henry. Just down the street (to the East) from Hugo's was Alamo Fried Chicken - south side of the street (Howard, just East of the old Division ST?). Do you happen to recall this one. I posted in the Homecooking board, as I've been trying to reconstruct the recipe for many years. It too was sold, but IIRC, the name, building and equipment went with the sale - the recipe did not, and it soon closed. Link to that post: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/509111

                Just curious. I cannot believe that I am the only person living, who remembers them.

                Thanks, and appreciate the reference to Hugo's. Sorry that I missed this condiment with my pizza. In later years, after Hugo's, the best that I could find was the chain, Pizza Inn, on the Coast. When I moved to NOLA, I expected their Pizza Inns to be as good - not even close. They were more like what I now expect from chain pizza. In Biloxi and Gulfport, even the Pizza Inn chain made good and interesting pizzas, though not up to the old Hugo's standard.


              2. My wife, Lynda (d'Iberville High School class of 1964) and I used to go to Hugo's after football games. One night in 1964, one of her classmates had ordered a salad to go with his pizza. He put a slice of pizza on his plate, next to his salad. Some of his French Dressing got onto a piece of pizza and he told us all that it tasted pretty good. We all tried it and thought it was great! From that night on, we always put French Dressing on our pizzas. And the people at Hugo's always ensured that we always had a few extra bottles of dressing when we stopped in. I guess it caught on, because 40 years later, we were in Biloxi at Lynda's mother's house and ordered pizza from Pizza Hut. When they delivered it we saw that they had included 4 squeeze containers of French Dressing with the order! This is the Honest-To-God' truth.

                4 Replies
                1. re: jbeaugez

                  Good thread Tom, Mullet is exactly right that Hugo's is were it all started. the Pizza Inn's and Pizza Hut's that were built later on the coast all had french dressing bottles on the table. I still remember having a Norman pizza at Hugo's in the late 70's, man I would kill to have one now!

                  1. re: stvtunlvzn

                    Going tangential here, the best pizza, that I have ever had was the pepperoni and green olive from the Pizza Inn on the Pass Road in Gulfport. They managed to get the thin crust to plump up, like a Saltines cracker. It had wonderful air pockets and was perfectly cooked. Their pepperoni was excellent and the green olives were a nice briney counterpoint to their ever so slightly sweet sauce.

                    When I moved to New Orleans, I expected the same. That was not to be. The crust was horrible, the sauce was overly-sweet, and no green olives. Bah!

                    Hugo's was very good, but that one Pizza Inn was great. Now, in Phoenix, we have Tony Bianco. He's won a couple of James Beard awards, and has been featured on dozens of cooking and travel programs. Pizza is his life's blood, and he's famous for it. Still, I rate those Gulfport Pizza Inn's pies over Tony's. Considering that they were a chain, i can only imagine that the chef, or owner, had a vision and deviated from the corporate norm. Luckily, I was a customer, and still recall those pies. They are the paradigm, by which all others will evermore be judged - including Tony Bianco's.

                    Sorry for the trip down memory lane, but this WAS a pizza thread, right?


                  2. re: jbeaugez

                    Interesting history lesson. I was a contemporary (Gulfport High School '65), and dined at Hugo's from probably the early '50s, with my parents. I never was aware of this. Probably last dined there in the late '60s, and just never encountered it.

                    Now, thanks to Hugo's, my first apartment had Chianti fiaschi with colored candles in them. Every time I have a Chianti (much better Chianti now - and more expensive), I reflect.

                    Thanks for sharing that,


                    1. re: jbeaugez

                      That's a fantastic story jbeaugez!!! Part of Biloxi history!!!

                    2. I was in biloxi from 1969 through 1971. And yes, I learned to put french dressing on the pizza at Hugo's. Hugo's was a great place to get together with friends back in those days. Later on, in 1998, when I went back to visit, Hugo's was showing signs of age. The bar, formerly The Office Lounge next door, was more a biker crowd then, but still had a good juke box, and the wall was pushed out to enlarge it. I remember a cocktail waitress, actually two of them, Linda and Fortune. Fortune was from Casa Blanca. She was really a great waitress and personality. Mr. Hugo would drop pizzas on the table for us and pitchers of beer. You could stop in Hugo's and run into someone you knew. L?? on the jukebox was Share the Land. And we would sing along. lol I have a photo of us all crowded into the place, young, laughing, full of promise and hope for tomorrow. What a party. Hugo's was razed sometime before 2005.

                      1. My Name is Jim Rungo, and I am the son of Hugo Rungo who was the owner of HUGO's Resturant. Yes French Dressing on pizza started at Hugo's resturant. there was a big article done by the Sun Herald about it. If you search their archives I am sure you can find it.

                        7 Replies
                        1. re: kungo47

                          Well, your dad contributed to many memories, at least for me. Though we lived in Gulfport, my family dined at Hugos very often, and we had many wonderful meals there. I did not recall the French Dressing, though I did dine there during the years mentioned. Guess that I just missed it.

                          As an aside, because of the candles on each table, I gathered up Chianti fiachi and colored candles, for my first apartment. I tried to duplicate the "look" from Hugo's.

                          Thanks for the contribution,


                          1. re: Bill Hunt

                            I am very glad you enjoy those memories ! I have many of them myself, my Dad passed away April 3rd of 2008. I remember the Lounge and the resturant like it was yesterday! I am the only living sole with the recipe for that pizza. The french dressing thing started in the mid-late 60's and took off! Like I said the SunHerald did a big story on it . The city tore the building down after Katrina, it had turned into a biker bar. I was a Biloxi Police Officer for many years and went to the bar on calls all the time. My Dad had sold the resturant to Norman Duplain who actually passed away a couple of months ago. I thought about re-opening Hugo's but just don't have the extra time that it would require. It was really nice to read all the good comments that everyone wrote. Take care and GOD bless!

                            1. re: kungo47

                              Hey Jim, I too have fond memories of Hugo's. Although I never put french dressing on my pizza. Can you tell me what all was on the Norman pizza that I used to love?

                              1. re: stvtunlvzn

                                that pizza was created by the man that bought Hugos from my dad, Norman Duplain. It was not a creation of my dads. Sorry I couldn't help.

                                1. re: kungo47

                                  "Old Biloxi Recipes" on facebook has asked for Hugo's tomato sauce. Do you happen to have it.....? would you share?

                              2. re: kungo47

                                Mid-60's? That might explain my missing that addition. Most of my memories were from the previous decade, and by the mid-60's, I was headed elsewhere in the world. Now I know why this was a surprise to me.

                                Thank you for the info, and the best of luck, should you explore re-opening Hugo's.


                                1. re: kungo47

                                  JIM, please re open!!! My parents ate there all the time when they dated. Hugo's pizza is always brought up when us locals talk of good food from better days.

                            2. YES it is true! I just came back from my annual Mardi Gras trip to NOLA for the weekend and my friend's house in Ocean Springs for the rest of the week, culminating in a perfect for a 7 year old's birthday dinner trip to Sicily's Italian buffet, where they served about 25 different kinds of pizza, and some traditional gulf coast specialties. Amongs the pizzas, red beans and rice, gumbo, chicken, bread puddings and such, I noticed several squirty bottles of orange liquid clustered at every pizza area. When I asked my local host, he explained it was a local custom to put French dressing on pizza down there. Fueled by Mardi Gras bravery, I gave it a shot. Weeeeeellllll, all I can say is it was not so good. I can't imagine why anyone would do that to a perfectly good, or in this case just OK, pizza. The custom might have evolved from the French penchant for mayonnaise on things like french fries, with I suspect the natural next step being flavored mayonnaise on pizza. But I'm just guessing. All I can say is I SAW IT WITH MY OWN EYES!!!!

                              1. Having been born and raised 20 minutes away and I also lived in Biloxi about 4 blocks from Hugo's..I can hardly remember a time when I did not use french dressing on my pizza and I have been eating it this way for over 50 years. While some use Catalina French it is not what Hugo's originally did. They actually made homemade creamy french at least at least at one time they did. Catalina is not the same at all. When I have lived away from home Hugo's was one of the first places I would go when I came home for a visit. I have introduced this love of French dressing on pizza to many friends in many places. Most of them love it . If you have tried it with Catalina whether you liked it or not do yourself a favor and try it with creamy French. As far as I am concerned Catalina is not even French dressing lol.

                                7 Replies
                                1. re: ktyscat2

                                  What a great "good food conversation".....I just might have to try this soon! I know I can get Kraft French Dressing...but is Catalina even available? I remember pouring Catalina dressing over left over roast beef and sticking it under the broiler. Damn...I am making myself hungry.

                                  1. re: Brawny

                                    yes yoou can still get Catalina but please please DO NOT try it on pizza..any of my friends who have tried french dressing on pizza have loved except a couple then I asked ..creamy or catalina and when they answered catalina I said that is the problem lol. After using creamy they now like it also. asnd I agree with nosquidfood catalina is not even french dressing lol
                                    and I am so glad so many remember Hugo's with as much affection as I do.

                                    1. re: ktyscat2

                                      Hey, if one grew up on The Coast, during the time, they could never forget Hugo's. We'd drive from Gulfport, just to dine there, though my parents had just left Keesler, driven home to G'pt., and then we'd drive back.


                                      PS - I think that the first three apartments, where I live, all had the grass-bound Chianti fiaschi with colored candle drippings!

                                      1. re: Bill Hunt

                                        When all my aunts, uncles and cousins would gather at my grandparents in Moss Point we would make the trip to Hugo's ( it would take 2 station wagons and 3 cars lol) we would have the back room with the big table and even then some of us would end up in a couple of booths. But they always welcomed us with smiles and laughter over how many new babies there were or who got married..it was like they were part of our family..and even now when we get together it is one of those memories we always talk about.

                                        1. re: ktyscat2

                                          Well, our trips were a bit less of an ordeal. For years, it was my parents and me, and then I think that my little brother did accompany us. Small group.

                                          Same for when we'd drive over to Ocean Springs to Allman's Restaurant, just over the bridge on Hwy 90.


                                          1. re: Bill Hunt

                                            I have to jump in here with a comment about Pizza Inn. My wife and I were coming back to Georgia, from a weekend in Florida, one Sunday and we passed through small town after small town looking for some lunch. Finally we pulled up into (I think Vidalia) about 12.30 and it appeared that everybody in town was at the Pizza Inn. We decided to join them. They had a cheeseburger pizza that I still dream about. Tasted like a Krystal hamburger. All the other pizzas were good too. : )

                                            I'm going to try some French dressing on my pizza the next time I make one.

                                            1. re: kengk

                                              Ah, Pizza Inn. On he Gulf Coast, there was an installation, that was way,way up there, and it did not even come close o most other locations. They managed to do great crust, and offered green olives. It was head and shoulders above all others, hat I have experienced. I miss those days, and the Gulfport Pizza Inn. Nothing else to compare, and in Phoenix, we have the # 1 pizza restaurant in the US - Pizzaria Bianco. Actually, Chris Bianco could learn a trick, or two, but that was then, and his is now.


                                2. I'm from Gulfport originally (12 miles from Biloxi) and definitely remember the French-dressing-on-pizza fad from high school (late 80s). I never tried it myself, though; thought it sounded a bit weird (as well as adding lots of extra calories!).

                                  It's definely a Gulf Coast thing, the way putting peanuts in one's RC Cola is a Columbus, GA thing.

                                  5 Replies
                                  1. re: Chowbird

                                    Hey, though I am a generation before, what are a few extra calories?

                                    Now, if one lived in NYC, then Mayor Bloomberg might comment, and dictate, but no back then.


                                    1. re: Chowbird

                                      peanuts in RC was not only in Columbus. It was all over Alabama, too. :)

                                      1. re: basketwoman

                                        I recall that combo on the Gulf Coast, but found it rather odd, and not to my liking. Guess that some folk from MS had encountered it in AL and brought it over.


                                      2. re: Chowbird

                                        Why worry about calories when eating pizza anyway? :-)

                                        1. re: Chowbird

                                          In the '50s we were doing that in Gulfport, but we put peanuts into Barq's Root Beer.

                                        2. I can also vouch for French dressing on Pizza on the MS Gulf Coast. Pizza Inn in Long Beach, Biloxi and Ocean Springs always had the creamy French dressing in squeeze bottles available to patrons in the late 70s and early 80s (when I was living there). I was also the Asst Mgr at the O.S. location for a short time as well. "Pizza Hut" was the culprit for the introduction of the Catalina style French dressing, because it was the only type of French that they offered. I must say though, that I do like the Catalina a little better because it is a bit more spicy/zingy than the creamy French. I am living in PA now, and still everytime I go out for pizza, I'll bring my plate up to the salad bar and put the French dressing on my pizza - can't do without it. I travel quite a bit and I have seen people put just about all types of salad dressings on their pizzas from Thousand Island, Creamy Italian to Blue Cheese (very good!) --- so don't be afraid to add more flavor.

                                          1. Wow! I totally found this thread by accident but I'm glad I did. I love pizza and am not one for adding things to my slice but I think I'm going to have to try this. How I found this thread is that I was recently going through some of my dads old things and discovered an original Hugo's menu. I decided to Google it and see if it was still in existence but it seems it no longer is. That's a shame because the pizza sounds great. It's kinda cool to have a nostalgia piece like this.

                                            3 Replies
                                            1. re: jesse0920

                                              Yes, that is a Hugo's Menu. Glad that you found the thread. Hugo's, while small, was a favorite on the Coast for many years.

                                              I stole the idea of the fiaschi (grass-bound Chianti bottles), with colored candle drippings, as decorations for my first apartment. They brought back great memories - at least of the bottles, as the Chianti, originally contained within was... well not the best.


                                              1. re: jesse0920

                                                Hello, My name is Jim Rungo, I am the son of Hugo Rungo Jr, and Grandson of Hugo Sr. I have to ask if you would be willing to sell that menu? I am currently in the process of trying to reopen Hugo's and the menu would go great. I still have one of the shirts but my mother has the only menu we had and she can't find it. I have a scan of one of the menus but that is all. Please let me know if you are willing to let it go.

                                                Thank you Jim Rungo

                                                1. re: kungo47

                                                  The best of fortune in reopening Hugo's.

                                                  If you do so, we will definitely dine there, on our next trip to Biloxi.