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Jan 22, 2013 04:15 PM

Visiting Rome with Family

Hello! I'm visiting Rome with my family which includes two boys ages 9 and 11. I've read tons of posts so I have some great ideas for eatting but I have two questions:

1.) Do most of the trattoria's/restaurants have menus in English?
2.) Do most trattoria's/restaurants have kids menus or portions available?
3.) If kids menus or portions aren't available do they allow you to order one plate and have the kids split it?

I have one adventurous eatter and one who isn't so I need to be able know how big of an international data plan I need to get to translate menus. And, I need to know how good my negotiating skills need to be to convince them to share one meal. . . . Thanks for any advice!

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  1. No, most trattorias don't have menus in English, or if they do, you don't want to read them as most are ludicrous or incomprehensible or both.

    The whole concept of children's menus or portions runs counter to the whole ethic of eating in Italy. That is not to say that tiny people are supposed to eat grown-up portions, but rather that concretizing something that can be done better by human interaction is just not going to happen. Ask the waiter what he'd suggest for the bambini and you'll be off and running. No negotiating needed. The bambino here is king. Your problem will be after you get home.

    1. Actually, I'm not sure why Maureen says most trattorias don't have menus in English. Most of them do.

      While the restaurants don't have children's portions, most understand if you'd like to order a portion to split between two children. But do keep in mind that Italian portions are much smaller than American portions. For instance the pasta portions are usually anywhere from 70 to 100 grams, and most 9 or 11 year old boys would have no trouble at all finishing them!

      5 Replies
      1. re: minchilli

        I agree that many trattorie have menus in English (it may not always be the clearest english as Maureen notes). Just know that chicken is not commonly on rome menus and that your best meal is not going to be pasta with tomato sauce (if its even on the menu). My kids really loved roman food when we visited there when they were young - gnocchi, spaghetti carbonara, ravioli, etc. - not to mention pizza - so yours should too. In most places, a dish of pasta will be a good meal for a child. Since the meals are ordered by courses (except for the rare places that offer a prix fixe menu), you will not have to order additional dishes for them unless they are hungry..

        1. re: jen kalb

          I'll add to Jen's comment with a story from one of our trips to Italy when our kids were about the same age as yours. My eldest polished off a plate of pasta, was still hungry, but didn't really want any of the secondi. He asked for a second portion of pasta, which greatly amused our waiter, but they were happy to indulge him in his request.

          1. re: lisaonthecape

            Thanks for all the feedback! Do most trattoria's accept credit cards or just Euro? Also do you think they'd be willing to serve pasta without any sauce? My oldest won't eat sauce of any form including ketchup, mustard, mayo, etc. I think it wasn't until he was 10 that we convinced him to have pizza with sauce on it. I think he'll like the Roman pasta dish that just has the pasta water, cheese and black pepper but if he ends up not liking it he'll want plain pasta. . . .

            1. re: MJK21

              Most/all restaurants accept cards; and those who do not clearly display it (for example Tonino)

              Pasta without sauce ? not at all ? you should be able to order a simple "Aglio Et Olio" or "Cacio e Pepe" both are minimal pasta dishes.

              1. re: Maximilien

                pasta "alla gricia" is another roman dish where the pasta is dressed with fried guanciale, and a minimal amount of cheese. It just looks shiny, with little bits of meat. As with the cacio e pepe there will be no sauce evident (the cacia pepe has more visible blobs) Maybe your son would not identify the alla gricia treatment as sauce at all. I hope you can relax a little - there will be bread on the table and other foods available he will not starve if he does not want to eat the dish.

                Maybe you can look at this as a situation where he is changing context - the foods are different so he will not apply the old rules, if he is allowed to make choices. We had good luck sometimes with our kids trying totally new and improbable things on foreign travels and in some unfamiliar restaurants

                ps Armando al Pantheon is a good place with kids - they have good food, a big menu and I believe English translation of a sort.

      2. I ordered Italy for the Gourmet Traveler by Fred Plotkin used from Amazon. Then removed the glossary of Italin food and wine terms from the back of the book and stapeled it together.Much easier then carrying around the whole book.This was a tremendous help reading the menu when there was no English translation.

        1 Reply
        1. re: emglow101

          Awesome idea! I've read on a few sites that was a great book too!