Tradition important to new restaurant

by Peter Frost

Tradition is important to Alex Roberts and Jim Reininger, and it shows at the 4-month-old Restaurant Alma.
Roberts and Reininger combine a small-town feeling with a sense of worldwide flavor in their cozy, 50-seat diner on University Avenue and Sixth Avenue Southeast.
Using fresh, mostly organic ingredients, Alma has seven seasonally changing entrees that range from $11 to $23 a plate.
With dishes like slow-roasted pork, spaghettini, grilled swordfish and Portuguese-style stew, Roberts classifies the menu as eclectic and Mediterranean-inspired.
The restaurant also boasts a diverse selection of red and white wines from all over the world, which range from $18 to $125 a bottle.
“Our menu and wine list reflect a respect for traditions and styles from many different places around the world,” Roberts said.
Both Roberts and Reininger have been in the restaurant business for many years, and before opening Restaurant Alma, Roberts worked for Reininger at Lowry’s, a smaller neighborhood cafe in Uptown.
Prior to that, Roberts went to culinary school in New York and worked for an upscale French restaurant called Boulay in the city.
The owners chose Restaurant Alma’s location based on the smaller size of the facility as well as the diverse crowd in what Roberts calls an “up-and-coming” area near the University.
“We’re really hands-on owners, so we liked the small location,” Roberts said, while preparing chicken in Alma’s kitchen.
Roberts said that contrary to typical business owners, he and Reininger like to actually work in their restaurant.
Although the owners hope students dine there, the restaurant does not necessarily cater specifically to students.
“This is not an everyday place to eat unless you have a lot of money,” Roberts said. “This is a place you take a date to or celebrate a birthday.”
“We really wanted to bring different types of cooking to Minneapolis,” Roberts said. “So far, business has been phenomenal.”
He said patrons, like John Haflek from northeast Minneapolis, visit from all parts of the metro area.
“I heard about the place from a couple of friends, and decided to come and check it out,” Haflek said, who was out with his wife and two friends.
“The food and the service is great, and the wine list is phenomenal,” Haflek said. “It isn’t a place I’d go everyday, but it’s a nice change of pace for this area.”

Peter Frost covers business and welcomes comments to [email protected].