Hey mambo! Mambo Italiano! Bertram restaurant serves up taste of Italy in Hill Country

Mambo Italiano owner Al Redzematovic celebrates with local talent at Opera Night, held at his restaurant on 100 W. Ranch-to-Market Road 243 in Bertram. Al ensures his customers' dining experience is enjoyable by offering friendly service and great food, giving Bertram residents and diners from surrounding areas a taste of authentic Italian food and hospitality.






By Savanna Gregg

Staff Writer

Burnet Bulletin

In the heart of Bertram, there lies a hidden gem that has pleased the pallet of many a customer since since October 2017. When Bertram residents are asked where great Italian food may be found, their first answer will probably be “Mambo Italiano.”

At his authentic Italian Ristorante, Almir Redzematovic, whom everyone just calls “Al,” takes the appetite of his diners seriously and provides them with a lunch or dinner of which they would find the likes in a country far away from Central Texas.

Al was raised in Montenegro, a Southeastern European country located across the Adriatic Sea from the Italian peninsula. While attending high school, he studied Restaurant and Hotel Management, learning the basics of the restaurant business.

In 1992, Al moved to the United States at the age of 18 and dove into his life as a restaurateur, running a restaurant on Mulberry Street in New York City and later a restaurant in Connecticut. He eventually made his way to the Hill Country and made a home in the middle of a culture very unlike the one in which he was raised.

“I always liked the area, driving around,” Al said. “It is the perfect place to raise a family”

The Bertram area gave Al and his family a big Central Texas welcome, and discovered his culinary talents in October 2017 when he opened the ristorante on Ranch-to-Market Road 243, just off of Texas 29.

“Bertram is a small town that connects a lot of different towns,” Al said. “Having the restaurant here I feel makes it worth the drive when people are traveling from different places.”

Mambo Italiano offers an escape to Italy for anyone who chooses to dine there and Al and his crew make all meals to order, providing top-of-the-line service while their diners enjoy their meal.

When asked about his experience serving the people of his community, Al recalls a heartwarming story of kindness exhibited by his grandfather back home, long ago.

“My grandfather, Medo Baira, lived in a small town and was a wealthy man,” Al said. “One winter, the snow was up to everyone's shoulders and the people needed hay for their sheep and goats and other animals, so they came to my grandfather asking for help.

“He told the people who had no money to line up to the left, and those who did have money to line up to the right. When they lined up, he told them, 'Okay, everyone who lined up on the right: there is a man down the road who will sell you some hay; everyone on the left: take all the hay you need.”

Al honors his grandfather's selfless legacy by being kind and understanding to every customer who walks through his door.

“There was a homeless person who came in one day with only $20 that someone had given her,” Al said. “I didn't charge her for her meal because that was all she had. She now comes in for a free meal every day, and is so excited to look at the menu and choose something new each time.”

Al strives to live as his grandfather did, ensuring the job he does is worth it to those eager to try his food and experience a little bit of his culture.

“It is the best feeling in the world, helping people,” Al said. “It is like they give me the whole world.”

Along with an authentic Italian meal and a growing supply of various wines and beers, diners may enjoy live entertainment on the weekends, including shows by jazz artists — Al's favorite genre, which he says is very popular back home in Montenegro.

Al also hosts Opera Night every three months and plans to incorporate more forms of entertainment for his customers in the future. People who are just passing through, or looking for a taste of Italy in their small town, are encouraged to stop by and see Al, hear his stories, and share his passion for culinary arts.

“This is something that is 'me,'” Al said. “It is what I have always wanted to do, which is serving people. It is a work of art, because you spend time making it, and people appreciate what you are doing. It keeps me going.”

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