At Bernie’s Pizza in Dallas, guests will find just three items on the list of foods styles served — pizza, calzones and stromboli.
But that doesn’t mean the menu is limited or even boring — quite the opposite, as the Luzerne County pizzeria offers up diverse versions of its mainstays, not to mention a list of almost 30 toppings that make for more flavor combinations than Chef’s Table cares to compute.
The takeout-only establishment was opened by its namesake owner, Bernie Ambrose, in the 1950s and eventually grew to include two other locations in Harveys Lake and Luzerne. When current owner Jill Marchakitus took over operations in 2002, she carried on tradition while also building upon Bernie’s reputation.
“(It) was always known as the place to go to get a reasonably priced pie,” Marchakitus said. “I try to expand the menu while still offering a reasonably priced plain pizza. Our large plain pie is still only $7.75.
“I am not positive where exactly his recipe came from, but we’ve been serving that same recipe to this day.”
The standard tray is a thin-crust, brick oven-style pizza comprised of a sauce that’s not sweet and a blend of cheeses. But Bernie’s goes beyond plain with its various crusts, which were designed with help from Mary Dragon at the Barn Nutrition & Fitness — first for her clients, and then for the general public.
“I find that offering these ‘diet-friendly’ pizzas is a great way to cater to specific customers who are avoiding flour or following a specific diet. The Fathead, for instance, features a homemade crust of almond flour, egg and cheeses and a sauce sweetened by Stevia instead of white sugar.
“The Fathead is a keto-friendly pie,” Marchakitus said. “The cauliflower crust is also keto-friendly, but most customers who order this are avoiding flour/carbs.”
And although these pizzas are gluten-friendly, they are made in Bernie’s facility and have the potential for cross-contamination with gluten, she added.
Other highlights from the menu include the Vegan Pizza, which is made with Daiya “cheese,” and the deep-dish, Personal Pan Fried Pizza.
Aside from traditional toppings such as pepperoni, sausage, peppers, black olives and anchovies, Bernie’s also offers arugula, pickles, shrimp, diced chicken and kale.
“These days, you can put almost anything on pizza and have someone like it,” Marchakitus said. “I hopped on the pickle bandwagon because customers were asking for them. I know a lot of people shake their head, but it is good.
“I try to listen to customers, and if they request something that is doable, I like to be able to offer it. Bernie’s and the pizza industry in general have come a long way from the traditional large pie with a few options for toppings.”
Bernie’s also serves around a dozen specialty pies, such as Feta Cheese and Spinach; Cheesesteak and Chicken Cheesesteak; Chicken Wing; Shrimp Scampi; Chicken Ranch; Ricotta Red Pepper; and Fresh Tomato and Minced Garlic.
Whichever variety customers choose, they can be sure that their food is made with plenty of care and attention to detail.
“I take pride in offering quality pizza and stromboli at what I think is an affordable price,” Marchakitus said. “I don’t have any interest — right now — in offering other options on the menu because it would most likely take away from the quality of what I’m doing now.”
- Address: 2941 Memorial Highway, Dallas
- Phone: 570-675-9611
- Established: 1950s
- Owner: Jill Marchakitus
- Cuisine: Thin-crust, brick-oven pizza
- Hours: Tuesdays through Saturdays, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
- Online: Visit the pizzeria’s Facebook page.
Patrice Wilding is a 13-year employee of the Lifestyles Dept. at The Times-Tribune, where she worked her way up from a clerk to a web video producer to a full-time reporter, writer and copy editor. An Olyphant native, she graduated from Mid Valley Secondary Center and earned a bachelor’s degree in liberal studies with concentration in media arts, political science and communications from Wesley College, Dover, Delaware. She lives in Clarks Summit with her husband, Justin, and their son, Johnny. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; 570-348-9100 x5369; @pwildingTT