Serving up a family owned restaurant

Hewlett eatery creates a ‘good old days’ feeling


It’s difficult to make weekend reservations at Cucina Di Vargas in Hewlett, according to owner Erica Vargas, as everything on the menu is made to order, including Italian favorites such as chicken parmigiana, veal Sorrento and clams casino.

Vargas, an Inwood resident, graduated from the University of Buffalo and when she returned to her hometown last year, she decided to join her father, Narciso, and brother, Danny, in owning a family restaurant. “It was a family thing, my father’s dream and it’s what I know,” she said. “I like to try new things and the timing couldn’t be more perfect.”

Though Cucina Di Vargas opened Oct. 25, four days before Hurricane Sandy hit Long Island, the restaurant, located at 12 Franklin Ave., wasn’t damaged and closed for two days due to a loss of power, Vargas said.

It was natural for the Vargas family to open up their first restaurant in Hewlett as they are well acquainted with the neighborhood, according to Vargas. “My dad has been a chef for more than 25 years at various Italian restaurants in Hewlett,” she said. “We chose Hewlett because we know the clientele.”

Danny, a Lawrence resident, also serves as the manager and bartender. “It’s been amazing,” he said of the restaurant’s opening. “Our customers have said they get that feeling of the good old days.”

Jaime Wysocki, president of the Hewlett-Woodmere Business Association and Cucina Di Vargas customer, said she strongly supports local residents patronizing local business. “This only makes for a stronger more valuable community,” she said. “With several Italian-style restaurants between Hewlett and Woodmere, there is more than enough pasta and sauce for everyone to be happy.”

Cucina Di Vargas also has a wide homemade dessert selection that includes Italian cheesecake, biscotti and cannolis as well as The Napoleon, a flaky bread made from phyllo dough, filled with whipped cream.

“I can only hope that Cucina Di Vargas, along with all of our local businesses, continues on for many years to come,” Wysocki added. “And there’s no doubt in my mind that as long as they keep serving their signature dessert, The Napoleon, as well as the rest of their gratifying menu, this will happen.”

The Vargas family would like Cucina Di Vargas to be the first of many restaurants for their family. “I want us to grow together,” Vargas said. “I’d love to see a bigger restaurant and our family succeeding.”