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Need North End Restaurant for visiting parents and awful toddler

My parents are visiting later in the month and my mom wants to go to the North End. We'll be a group of six: mom, dad, me, hubs, impeccably behaved 6yo daughter who eats anything, and an impatient, loud, grabby, generally terribly behaved toddler. He's lucky he's otherwise charming and easy to parent in almost all other aspects of life, so we've decided we'll keep him. :-)

Ideas? I guess the default in this situation is Antico Forno - loud, not cramped, reasonably priced - but I was hoping to come up with something else. We also used to go to Trattoria Il Panino frequently in the pre-hellion years, but I'm not sure they can accomodate our group.

Perhaps someone out there with a similarly awful diner in the family has a suggestion I haven't considered? I'm at a loss - our older child was a wonderful diner from the get-go. Apparently that was not a result of my expert parenting skills but just the luck of the draw. (Tip: for anyone else out there with a similarly well-behaved child with a very adventurous palate, don't go patting yourself on the back just yet. :-))

Oh, and leaving the little troublemaker at home isn't an option - Grandma wants to eat with her darling grandkids.

Thanks for any suggestions!

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  1. Surprised no one has told me to stay home yet. :-)

    I wanted to specify that what I'm really looking for is a place that won't give us the stinkeye for having a kid who needs a highchair and is relatively loud. Would like some place that is not super cramped, out of concern for others, and this knocks out many places. We used to go to Pomodoro with our daughter and not think twice about it (and they were so sweet to her). Never in a million years with this one. Also need not too fancy (but not Galleria Umberto either, not what mom's looking for).
    Also would love to get decent service so we're not waiting around forever (that's when the native gets restless). Bringing his food out early or bringing food for him is not helpful because when he's done, he thinks everyone else should be done.

    I'm asking too much here, aren't I.

    5 Replies
    1. re: MrsCheese

      With all due respect, MrsCheese, it sounds like from your last sentence you reread your own post, and answered your own question. We also went through this phase with the little cookie. If you don't want to cook, how about ordering in and everyone can enjoy themselves without the added stress. I totally understand Grandma's request, but sometimes the kids just aren't able to cooperate at that moment in time. The little cheese might be able to cope with the situation in 6 months - one year from now, and everyone will then enjoy. I don't know your child's Grandma, but I know my child's loved the idea of us all going out, but wasn't happy when it wasn't the experience she was hoping for.

      1. re: CookieLee

        "I don't know your child's Grandma, but I know my child's loved the idea of us all going out, but wasn't happy when it wasn't the experience she was hoping for."

        Ha, this is so true! Honestly, we'll be fine at Antico Forno if that's where we end up. He's not *that* bad - I think I tend to exaggerate a little. :-) I was just hoping someone might point out someplace I'd overlooked.

      2. re: MrsCheese

        I feel your pain MrsCheese, but I'm afraid I haven't got much, as I don't do the North End much except for quicky lunch stuff....but I too have a young one (now 5) who is a tricky eater (won't eat anything new or different), he's well behaved (for the most part, until he gets too bored), but not an adventerous eater like your first sounds like. I hope you find something to accomodate

        1. re: MrsCheese

          Terrible food , but La Famiglia would work.

          1. re: MrsCheese

            Does Grandma want everyone to sit at the table the entire time? Our usual strategy is to study the menu ahead of time and order as soon as possible. Then one of us takes the 3-year-old for a walk around the neighborhood and the other bribes the 6-year-old with Angry Birds until the food arrives.

            And then there are the times that I have to get both kids doing calisthenics, out there on the sidewalk until the food is served... Make 'em do jumping jacks, toe touches and (in extreme cases) squat-thrusts until they are short of breath and then they'll be ready to sit down :-)

            A friend of mine uses a less physical approach: she keeps a special bag of toys, that they only bring to restaurants.

          2. Giacomo's... Have pops tire him out on the greenway while you wait in line. They're in such a rush there it shouldn't take long to be in and out.

            Please post the date, time, and restaurant you decide on.

            5 Replies
            1. re: Beachowolfe

              Thanks. I thought about Giacomo's but it's Memorial Day weekend and I'm afraid the wait will be even worse than usual. A reservation would be ideal.

              As far as date and time, I'm planning for Sunday May 27 around 5:30 (going out early is a must with this one).

              How bad is Giacomo's on a Sunday afternoon? Do you know how difficult it is to get a table for 6 in there? My mom would love it because Rachael Ray recommended it. /roll eyes/

              1. re: Beachowolfe

                "Please post the date, time, and restaurant you decide on."
                I just realized this was a little weird. You're trying to avoid us, aren't you!

                1. re: MrsCheese

                  I actually think your toddler sounds adorable, and I'd love to see him in a restaurant, and try to amuse him, but I am the 1% here, or maybe the .1%. Your mom's reaction would be hard for me though. I can't recommend anything in the north end, but you might do fine at Vinny's in Somerville. Especially at 5. Though probably not the atmosphere your mom is looking for.

                  1. re: MrsCheese

                    Well..I guess I would recommend Strega. Not because I think they are specially suited for your situation in any way..but because I don't go there and I doubt many Chowhounders do. :-)

                    Okay..but in all seriousness, most places in the North End are not big and roomy and loud enough to drown out a screaming toddler. Usually the tables are quite close together and I doubt your neighbors in the dining room will be amused by your son should he decide to start screaming.
                    In fact..the only one I can think of that's loud enough to do that is Pizzeria Regina.
                    Another suggestion would be for you to go to any of the restaurants at an off peak time. If that's not possible, then I guess go to a restaurant that can accommodate your party, and if your son acts up..then take him outside until he calms down.

                    1. re: MrsCheese

                      Not you, just your obstreperous offspring. Thanks thesaurus dot com!

                  2. HA! Love your post, and had to laugh because my 6 yo is also impeccably behaved, and we are way too smug about it. Now #2, who is 3 mths old, better live up to her sister's example... We'll see.

                    Honestly, Antico Forno seems like it would be perfect to me... We ate there over the summer, and it was absolutely delicious - I was pleasantly surprised - the risotto was outstanding, and I'm very picky about my risotto..

                    1. I agree with the Antico Forno recommendation, and would also recommend Artu. I always see families with strollers coming into Artu, and the place is quite child friendly.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Pegmeister

                        And the last time we were at Artu we walked out mid meal because of a generally terribly behaved toddler and haven't returned in five years. I faulted the restaurant staff as well as the parents for their lack of consideration to other diners.

                        1. re: RichardinJP

                          I understand, and I've been in the same position. I recommend Artu because the dining room does attract a lot of families and strollers. When dining there, I opt to sit at the bar and out of ear shot. It's hard to pass up their shrimp scampi pizza or even the potato and prosciutto pizza.

                      2. I know Grandma wants the North End, but maybe she could be convinced that somewhere else (Chinatown?) would be better with such a little tike. The fantasy of a lovely meal with the whole family is simply that.......just a fantasy. My daughter is almost 18 now, and it's already hard for me to remember how difficult it was trying to get her to sit through a meal in a restaurant. By the time I'm a grandmother, I'm sure I will have completely lost touch with the reality.

                        Antico is boisterous enough, but there isn't any running room and if the little one needs to move around it will be tough....and if the weather doesn't cooperate, going outside for a bit will be difficult as well. How about Full Moon Cafe in Cambridge? They are so well setup for this type of situation, with great adult and kids food, and that lovely play area to keep young kids busy while adults can relax over wine and decent food. Most places in Chinatown would be good for space and noise level considerations as well.......