His affinity for seafood led him to San Diego, where he boldly broke from his Italian heritage to learn the craft of a sushi chef. At Sushi on the Rock, Bernardo’s efforts were rewarded, as the restaurant was voted “Best Sushi in San Diego.” Armed with an appreciation for Japanese discipline and aesthetics, he returned to Western cooking as Sous Chef at Sally’s on the Waterfront at the Grand Manchester Hyatt before serving as Senior Sous Chef at the Marriott Hotel San Diego. For Bernardo’s first Executive Chef position, he returned to Rhode Island to run the kitchen at the Providence Oyster Bar, which opened to outstanding reviews and enthusiastic public response. When the Oyster Bar owners debuted a steakhouse, Providence Prime, they tapped Bernardo to serve as their Executive Chef.
Bernardo joined the 9 Group to develop Nove Italiano, and with Bernardo in the kitchen, Nove Italiano became one of Las Vegas’s most acclaimed Italian restaurants. Just as N9NE Steakhouse, the group’s original restaurant concept, revolutionized the American steakhouse, Nove Italiano redefines Italian dining. Bernardo collaborated with Chef Michael Kornick, 9 Group's James Beard-nominated consulting chef and partner, and N9NE Group Executive Chef Barry Dakake to create the menu for the restaurant located on the 51st floor of the Fantasy Tower at the Palms Casino Resort. Together, these chefs create Las Vegas’ most memorable contemporary dining experiences.