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Taste of the Highland Lakes: Passion and creativity at Mambo Italiano Ristorante

Chef Almir Redzematovic of Mambo Italiano

One of Chef Almir Redzematovic’s personal favorites, a melt-in-your-mouth steak stacked high and topped with portobello mushrooms and smothered in a red wine sauce. Staff photos by Alex Copeland

CHEF: Almir Redzematovic

SIGNATURE DISH: Black Angus cowboy-cut ribeye

For Chef Al at Mambo Italiano Ristorante, creating good food comes from an enduring passion for innovative dishes with high-quality ingredients. 

“What makes me special, my cooking, is I always try to put myself into it,” said Almir Redzematovic, who owns the Bertram restaurant. “It’s where I found myself. It’s where I found peace.” 

Natural ingredients and slight tweaks on Italian classics have given Mambo Italiano its reputation for quality dining, he said. 

His rapini, for example, is a classic he used to cook on Mulberry Street in New York City’s Little Italy. He found that the broccoli rabe for which the dish is known wasn’t loved by Texans. He exchanged the rabe for spinach, and it was a hit.

“I can be creative and make things that you want,” he said, humbly hinting at his expertise in innovation.

Caprese salad from Mambo Italiano
A simple but delicious caprese salad made of thick, steaky tomatoes, flavorful mozzarella, and sharp black olives, all drizzled with olive oil. A fresh dish to start off a rich meal.

Redzematovic grew up in Montenegro, a southeastern European country that borders the Balkans, where he studied restaurant and hotel management before moving to New York at the age of 18. There, he began an 11-year tutelage in Italian cooking. He honed his skills as a chef and an entrepreneur in Connecticut before moving to the Texas Hill Country to raise a family. He and wife Sabina have seven kids, ages 2 to 12.

“I always was in love with the Hill Country area,” he said. “I’m not single like I used to be, where I could be in New York and different places. I think this is the right place to show my skills and raise a family.” 

Following the success of Mambo’s, Redzematovic opened Fratelli Pizza, 240 Texas 29 West in Bertram. He is in the process of renovating a space in Horseshoe Bay for his latest restaurant venture, a bistro.

His signature dishes include a Black Angus cowboy-cut ribeye, which he serves with cured ham, spinach, and portobello mushrooms with a demi-glace. When he talks about creating his dishes, his eyes light up.

“Passion,” he said of cooking. “I have to do it. It relaxes you.”


Mambo Italiano Ristorante is located at 100 FM 243 West at Texas 29 in Bertram. Call 512-355-8169 or visit for a menu and hours.

Highland Lakes Eat & Drink Guide

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