Rome and Florence with 4 kids (ages 7-17) in April 2013
Yikes...heading to Italy in a couple of weeks and feeling overwhelmed by all the dining options! We are staying in apartments in both Rome (near Campo Fiori) and Florence (near Palazzo Ciompi). We plan to eat breakfast and most dinners in (gotta trim the budget somewhere!). But we would like to eat lunches out (some sit down - like after touring the Vatican for 4 hours) and some more casual (we can find a bench to eat pizza). We would also like to have one good, yet reasonably priced dinner out in Florence and in Rome.
The kids are pretty good eaters (2 boys, 2 girls)...the hardest will be the little one, but she would be happy with ravioli or pasta, which I imagine we can get anywhere.
Other than one day visiting Tivoli Gardens in Rome, we are local. We are taking 2 day trips from Florence, so only need 2 lunch recommendations there.
The key for us is keeping expenses low....we obviously want the kids to experience authentic italian dining, but don't feel the need to spend a fortune on good food. Meals get expensive with family of 6!
Thank you in advance for any and all suggestions!!
Normally, for budget lunches in Rome, I'd suggest L'Asino d'Oro; however, with its prix fixe menu, I think that's a risky choice with four kids. Pastificio near Piazza di Spagna is a good option. While it's certainly not fine dining, it's hard to beat a 4 Euro lunch. Obvious choices near your apartment would be Forno Campo de Fiori and Antico Forno Roscioli for take away. Pizzarium would be a good option, although that doesn't get you your sit-down lunch after the Vatican tour. If you're in Testaccio, the Tavola Calda at Volpetti Piu might work--but don't get carried away at the shop next door.
In Florence, given your location, I'm assuming that you'll be heading into the Centro Storico for the day--you're not close enough to run back and forth. Nerbonne at Mercato Centrale would be good. I'm also very fond of Coquinarius, near Il Duomo. There's a lot of mediocre food in that area, which this is not, plus Coquinarius has the advantage of remaining open throughout the afternoon, so you can have a long, late lunch when many places are closed. Trattoria Mario is very reasonably priced, but be sure to get there right as it opens and take cash.They turn the tables pretty quickly, so it's not a place to linger, but it's probably the most reasonably priced bistecca fiorentina around. (I have teenaged boys myself, so a good price on beef is important for my two carnivores.) If you're heading over to the Oltrarno neighborhood (visiting Santo Spiritu and the Brancacci Chapel, perhaps), Casalinga is reasonably priced, family-friendly and serves traditional Florentine classics.
I hope that helps to get you started. We spent two weeks in Rome with our boys several years ago, also in April, and that remains one of our favorite family trips.
Thank you so much. I have been on the fence about L'asini D'oro...most of the kids would probably eat what they are served. But youngest wouldn't...do you think they would serve her plain pasta or no? Other suggestions sound great. Thank you again for taking the time to advise...so helpful!
In addition to some of Lisa's recommendations, I think sora margherita in the ghetto (lunch only i think) is great for a family, just get there early since there are no reservations. they have simple pasta dishes like ravioli and other home made pasta (no tomato sauce) that my then teen-aged kids really liked. good grilled meat, like baby lamb, and fried artichokes. and its cheap and simple - I think they even have crayons on the table.
nerone near the colosseum is low stress.
re: jen kalb
Low stress is always good! I have seen Sora Margherita in my searches, so will take another look - thank you so much for recommendations. As I have seen others post - I am certain that the quality of the pasta in Italy will be so far superior to what we have at home,that the kids will enjoy even the simple dishes! Thanks again!
It can be a bit hard to understand what people mean by "simple dishes" or "plain pasta". In the context of sora margherita, Im talking about pasta with say, pecorino cheese on it instead of a sauce with say mushrooms (that would be specified on the menu anyway) Id consider all of the classic roman pastas, alla gricia, carbonara, cacio e pepe, amatriciana etc to be very simple - the kind of things I would make for my kids at home in NY (but not as well)
Gnocchi is also something to look out for in Rome - my kids love it, usually served with a tomato sauce and on thursdays..