Good Italian Restaurants for kids--Rome and Venice
Here's my question and I'm throwing it out for all you fans of good food. I'm taking my children, aged 11 and 13, to Rome and then to Venice in June. They are really good kids, well behaved, interested eaters, no problem. But I would like to take them to some restaurants where we won't feel like the waiters are hostile or the service is just too slow. I had some impossible meals with them when they were younger, in Venice, at restaurants that just didn't seem to get how tired and hungry little kids get. We wound up eating in several chinese restaurants just because it was less of a drag.
Also, it looks to me as though Cichetti style snack places are definitely not a great place to drag such young children. Do italian families not eat out with kids at these places or at night?
Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated. We are staying in Monti, in Rome, in an apartment and somewhere near the Rialto in an apartment in Venice.
Dunno about Venice, but if you had hostile waiters with children in Rome, there was definitely something wrong. You can taken children, and yours aren't even that young, anywhere and they will be treated just dandy. Just prep the children on the kinds of foods they're going to find. And make sure they know how to eat spaghetti properly or a well-meaning waiter might decide they need instruction.
I can sympathize with your prior experience. Italian restaurant culture is leisurely and young kids often just cant sit for a full meal, especially at night when they are tired and falling apart. In our experience, restaurant lunches work better than dinners with kids. I think you will find that your older kids will be interested in the experience and it will feel very different. You made the good choice of renting an apartment - you may not even want to go out at night for a meal - if you do, pizza is a great option, at least some of the time, because kids understand it and it is a bit quicker and more informal. Cicchetti seems less good, largely because many of those places dont really have many seats, and can be crowded. You would be better off finding some good prepared stuff salad greens, bread cheese, meats etc and eating at home and kicking back, then maybe going out for a gelato, than going for a full restaurant meal. My two cents having been there.
You are right, I've never been to Rome and haven't taken the kids there. I didn't mean the waiters were hostile, exactly. The children were in an angelic age and people generally made a huge fuss over them. But I never felt welcome, myself, at any restaurant. The experiences in Venice were odd and, of course, related to the fact that the children were much younger (eight and five) but I'll never forget being told by Da Franz that they couldn't make a simple spagghetti al olio for the youngest child because they "didn't have any garlic, its a choice we're making!"
I never made it to any cicchetti restaurant when we were in Venice, partly because I was holed up with the youngest child by early evening. Sounds like its not a good bet. I'll have to leave it until I start travelling alone with my husband in a few years.
But that is why we've taken apartments in both places. I can cook for us--its just that I'd like to go out a bit and not have to do all the shopping, cooking, and clean up on top of the sightseeing. Still, I'm excited to have kitchens because I love to cook and to shop in the markets.
What part of Venice are you staying in? We had an extended family gathering there three years ago and were mostly in Dorsoduro. We had a very good and relatively inexpensive meal at La Corte Antica Birraria in San Polo Square. On the advice of a previous chowhound poster I had the homemade bigoli with amatriciana sauce, and it was wonderful, and the kids all loved the pizza (the pizza in Venice is hit and miss, and this one was a hit, compared to Taverna San Travoso, which was also a very good family restaurant overall).
I agree with the other posters that dining with youngsters should not be an issue. I took a group with young chidren to my favorite local pizzeria and it was fine. It's especially good if you sit outside, since there's a lot to distract the kids. It would be a little bit of a hike from Monti. It's on the Linea B, Piramide, though.
I can't imagine Taverna dei Fori Imperiali on Via Madonna dei Monti being less than welcoming to children. But an Italian meal, as pointed out, is a leisurely thing, and it may be unreasonable to expect them to hurry it up just because there are kids involved. As for the spaghetti all'olio thing, I don't think it was that they were being kid-unfriendly; if they don't use garlic in their cooking, they don't have it in the kitchen.