Bernie Vargas left Puebla, Mexico, in 1988 for Bayside, Queens and began working in pizzerias.

He learned how to cook Italian cuisine from a former boss, who told him,“’I’m gonna teach you how to make the sauces so one day you can have your own.”

“… And lookie here,” Vargas, 50, said, nodding to his establishment, Bernie’s Family Pizzeria.

Bernie’s is nearing its third anniversary. It opened on July 1, 2016, when the previous pizzeria’s lease was up. At first, residents were struck by the merge of the two ethnic groups, Bernie and Maria’s son, Pablo, 22, said. However, feedback on the establishment’s Facebook and Yelp pages say it is the best of both worlds.

“He’s the mastermind behind the secret of the sauce and the flavor,” Pablo said.

Owner Bernie Vargas preparing pizza in the kitchen, July 2016 Credit: Erick Osbaldo Segura

After they hit the two-year milestone, people started saying Bernie’s was the longest-standing pizzeria in the plaza, after it had changed hands nearly a dozen times in the last two decades, Pablo said.

Related: Mama Lisa: An Italian favorite that just keeps growing 

Everyone in the family worked in the food industry before deciding to create something of their own.

Currently, Pablo and his sister Darlin, 26, run the operational side of the business, including the storefront, management and social media pages. Major decisions are decided on as a family.

The staff has seen countless cousins, aunts and friends chip in, especially to help out with large catering orders and during the holidays.

“My dream came true,” Bernie said. “From now on, it’ll be for the kids.”

Last week, they made a heart-shaped pizza for one of their regular’s daughters. In the past, they have made Pokemon ball-styled pizzas for birthdays and used pepperoni to create jersey numbers on pizza for those celebrating after sports games. 

“Pretty much everyone that is here is family, even if they’re not blood-related,” Darlin said.

The menu was cultivated by blending Bernie and Maria’s personal experiences.

While mom knew Mexican cuisine, dad knew Italian, Darlin said.

One dish that both Pablo and Darlin rave about is their mother’s tacos, reminiscing of their childhood.

The garlic knot pie, taco pie and nachos are top sellers at Bernie’s.  

The caprese pie is a popular option on the menu. Credit: Katherine Hoey

Maria’s methodology of sauce-making is an ode to how her family made it in Mexico, without the use of any electric appliances. The from-scratch recipe had been passed down from her mother. The establishment prides itself on homemade goodness, from the sauces down to the sour cream and corn tortillas. 

“If dad has a question about a certain Spanish dish, she’ll be like ‘Oh no, let me do it,’” Darlin said.

They outsource fresh ingredients from across Long Island, like basil and cilantro from Hank’s Farmstead on Barnes Road and vegetables from Peter’s Fruit Company in Yaphank.

“I think because so many people have supported us, it’s only fair we support everyone else,” she said.

Pablo Vargas prepares a delivery order. Credit: Katherine Joey

The location, at 225 Montauk Highway, is in the middle of Mastic, Moriches, Shirley, Eastport and Manorville and delivers to all the areas.

Bernie’s Family Pizzeria

225 Montauk Highway, Moriches, NY 11955
Website: Bernie’s Family Pizzeria
Instagram: @Berniesfamilypizzeria
Facebook: Bernie’s Family Pizzeria

Hours:
Monday-Thursday / 10 a.m.-9 p.m.
Friday-Saturday / 10 a.m.-10 p.m.
Sunday / 11 a.m.-8 p.m.
*Free delivery on $20+ orders

Above: Steak tacos paired with lime and salsa.