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Bellingham
Saturday, May 15, 2021

TASTE TESTERS: MAMBO ITALIANO CAFE

The entrance to Mambo Italiano Cafe. // Photo by Jillian Powers
The entrance to Mambo Italiano Cafe. // Photo by Jillian Powers

Mambo Italiano is a quaint little café located in the middle of Fairhaven. It’s close to campus, so a short drive or bus ride will get there in no time.

Mambo Italiano opened its doors in 2001 and has been successful ever since. Owner and Executive Chef Sam Tino grew up in the Italian restaurant business, and the family’s passion for food runs deep.

Tino started out at his father’s business, Tino’s Spaghetti House, in Oregon where he eventually ran the family business and opened up five more in Oregon. He worked his way through different restaurants throughout Washington before landing in Bellingham. By then, Tino had the knowledge of food necessary to open up Mambo Italiano.

Without making a reservation, I received a table right away and was offered a table either on the outside patio or in the dining room. Upon choosing the dining room, soft music played and dim lighting lit the restaurant creating a calm atmosphere.

As soon as I was seated, I received water, bread, a menu and was greeted by a friendly waitress.

Mambo Italiano's Spaghetti Pomodoro. // Photo by Jillian Powers
Mambo Italiano’s Spaghetti Pomodoro. // Photo by Jillian Powers

I ordered the Spaghetti Pomodoro, a tomato, basil, fresh mozzarella, garlic-infused pasta dish. I usually opt for fettuccini alfredo whenever I go to an Italian restaurant but thought I would try something new, and I am glad I did. The dish was too large to eat in one meal, so I took home leftovers.

For those who are gluten intolerant, gluten-free pizza dough is offered as well as gluten-free lasagna. Dairy free dishes are also offered, including the penne primavera and fettuccini portobello.

My total at the end of the meal came out to $20 after tip. For those on a budget, this might not be the best choice, but if looking for a place to splurge on some great food, Mambo is the place to go.

Overall, I give Mambo a 9/10. The food was delicious, and I was pleasantly surprised to enjoy a dish I wouldn’t have usually tried. However, the service was busy while I was there.

The next time I go out for dinner I will definitely keep Mambo Italiano in mind.

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