Mario’s: Six decades of good food with a family touch

Feb 10, 2018 441

BY: Jim Abbott

Lights are low and white linen tablecloths beckon couples toward cozy romantic corners. On the sound system, Dean Martin is crooning about amore, but it takes more than love to run a successful restaurant for more than 60 years. Just ask Tom Bertolami, the third-generation owner of Mario’s Italian Dining, an unassuming fixture since 1956 among the ever-changing business plazas, industrial parks and independent businesses on South Yonge Street, the working-class side of Ormond Beach.

The secret of longevity in the restaurant business? “You’ve got to be here,” said Bertolami, 72, who started washing dishes in the restaurant’s kitchen when he was 10 years old, just for the chance to learn at the apron strings of his grandfather, the restaurant’s original co-owner Paul Stellato. “I’m here 99 percent of the time. It’s a very tough job, but a very rewarding job.”

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