425 Durbin Pavilion Dr, Saint Johns, FL 32259
425 Durbin Pavilion Dr, Saint Johns, FL 32259
Mario grew up on the East Coast in a neighborhood where his Nonno (Giovanni Bernardone), and Nonna (Maria nee Chiacchia) lived. My grandparents were very simple but ingenious immigrants from Italy and had unbelievable work ethics. As his six children got older, my grandfather bought three lots of land across the street from his home for his three sons and also provided homes for two of his daughters and families living in his own two-story house. This way, his famiglia would live and work together. Nonno was a mason for money and after tending the garden in the morning he would load up his tools in a wheelbarrow and walk a few miles to the different jobs then return home with his wheelbarrow and tools after a full day's work to check on the animals and the garden before going in the house for dinner. His small farm which he fed his family from with fruits, vegetables, eggs, and meats was very important, and was not a hobby for him, but a way of life. He shaped his property growing grapes and fruit trees so he didn't miss the Abruzzo hills in Italy so much and stayed grounded with the "simple" life. Nonna was normally in the kitchen preparing the day's foods and also going for eggs and flour daily while tending to the six children and chickens, goats, pigs, and garden. There was always something tasty in Nonna's kitchen (bread, cheese, soups, sauces, pasta, dessert treats) and if I told her I wasn't hungry she'd pinch my cheeks and tell me I was getting too skinny - imagine that! Together, Nonno and Nonna, managed by working without delay and by not wasting whatever they were given to always have enough for anyone who visited. When Mario's Dad (also Mario) and Godfather (Uncle Donato) started an Italian Ristorante years later, my whole family (aunts and uncles and cousins ) all worked together making fresh made pasta, grinding meats, making meatballs and sausage, crafting fine desserts, the only way they knew how. In a way, their laborious restaurant work efforts perfectly mirrored the previous efforts of
Nonno and Nonna!
Mario & Laura's Story
California Farm & Vineyard
When Laura and Mario got married in 1995, within three or four years they had a 5 acre self sufficient farm in Grass Valley CA where there were wooded areas with desnse oaks and pines and meadows for animals to graze, a stream that fed a pond with seven species of fish plus bullfrogs, a 75'x75' garden, a half-acre orchard, animal pens for goats, chickens, rabbits, and a 300 vine vineyard with muscatello, zinfandel (primativo), sangiovese, and barbera grapes! Mario bought a tractor and got to work on the land with his free time away from 40 hour work as a bridge engineer and we planted the fruits, trees, vegetables, and nuts, provided irrigation, put up fencing and built pens, picked and canned the fruit and vegetables, milked the goats and made cheese, harvested eggs from the chickens, butchered the rabbits and chickens, made prosciutto from local pigs, and harvested the grapes and made our own vino! It was a labor of love more than it was out of need and a way of life to remain simple, to appreciate the gifts from the earth, and to carry on and restore the past that Mario had witnessed first hand in his upbringing, most especially by his Nonno and Nonna!
We left our beautiful property in California and headed to Farmington mainly to get away from the culture and the trappings of California, and as soon as we began to realize that our four young children might be influenced by the lifestyle. We came to Farmington without jobs and without a real plan after visiting some California friends who had returned home to Farmington and who had invited us for a Thanksgiving retreat. We were already thinking that we were moving on from Cali and we had considered the Virginia Foothills first before deciding that we belonged in Farmington. Many were shocked that we would choose a small, out-of-the-way town like Farmington so spontaneously and yet following our hearts has always seemed to work out in time. Besides, Farmington has a sneaky charm with all of its old fashioned parades, 4th of July Celebrations, Connie Mack, great town parks, with salt of the earth folks who live traditionally! Best of all, it's a tremendous place to raise a family! Shhhhhh ..... Don't tell anybody!!!
As we look back into our family histories and our own interests, experiences, and efforts, it is not so difficult to imagine this journey that includes owning and operating a restaurant. In our youth, we were both given the notion that so many large family gatherings centered around food that was prepared with love and always by scratch: "What boxed ingredients??!!!" "Really, how does a microwave heat food??!!" " Why canned and frozen foods, if fresh ones are available??!!!" We were used to entertaining and sharing the many "fruits of the land" that we helped produce in California and our guests were always so pleased with the end results. In addition, we had this large and growing family and it was natural for us to think that we could all work together in honoring our past by sharing some of our desires of preparing food the old-fashioned way.
From NM to FL
So the NM Governor decided to shut our businesss down to zero percent occupancy... And we could not stand idly by, so we "Made a Move"!!! It was December 3rd, 2020 when we heard the news and we immediately signed up for three 26' long U-Hauls and we packed up two restaurants, two homes on 3.5 acres with donkeys, goats, rabbits, chickens, dogs, and cats and 9 children by December 18th so we could be in Florida before Christmas. Three amazing friends agreed to help drive the U-Hauls for us and we proclaimed, "We're on to Florida" and "We're headed to the Promised Land"! So blessed to be here and although it hasn't been easy, we couldn't be more thankful - we love our new home!!! So many great things to say about Florida - the beaches / the weather, of course, and the people have been welcoming! We sense the joy of the locals and their lifestyle and we are happy to celebrate with Florida and claim to be Floridians!
Thank You and Thanks be to God!
Where Food Loves You Back!
In a sense, the motivating factor has always been LOVE:
-To recall how Our Families in the past had served Us -
-To work hand in hand with Our Children -
-To serve Others in the best way we knew how -
Always through FOOD!
VIDEO in Construction and NM Restaurant
NM RADIO ADS (Click "PLAY (>)" to listen)
ITALIAN MAP --> SPECIAL LOCATIONS
Trattoria di Bernardone
LOVES YOU Back!"