Easter week in Rome with 2 boys
We are headed to Rome the week of Easter with our sons aged 8 and 9. I know Italians generally eat late but we are going to try to stay as close to 7ish as best we can. I also tried to pick restaurants in or near Centrico Storico so we can walk from the apartment (near Piazza Navona). We are going to Pizzarium for lunch one day and various markets as we wander the city for lunches. Below is my dinner list and the reason I chose the location. We enjoy great food and HATE places offering kids menus with hot dogs and chicken fingers. Feedback is appreciated!
La Campana - Sunday - I needed a place that was open and they seem to be consistent
Settimio al Pellegrino - not 100% sure about this pick - a later opening and i hear a tourist might not have a great experience
Roscioli - pops up alot in suggestions and very close to our apt.
Da Enzo - genunine Roman trattoria
Enoteca Corsi - gnocchi on Thursdays which one son LOVES
Armando al Pantheon - i wanted a place with a good view the last nite and no one seems to have a good suggestion - this was as close as I could come to meeting the goal and everyone has good things to say about the food
I have been to Rome several times and am now planning for Rome with a nine-year-old boy and I am taking a completely different approach to eating. I am planning for mainly sit down meals and real food at lunch time, preferably in a pedestrianized area with outdoor seating so that if said boy gets antsy with the pace of an Italian meal, he can get up and run around a bit, without cars and within sight. Pizzarium will be an exception to that plan but my recollections of Rome is that there are not many good picnic spots convenient to the sights. Besides, the adults will want to sit down in the shade. I am also thinking of places with buffets so the nine year old can see what he might like, and they are often cheaper.
I am a little concerned that winging it for lunch would end up too often resulting in stale sandwiches and sugary stuff out of desperation so that is why I am looking to track down real food and sit-down menus for the middle of the day, near the tourist sights on the agenda.
I am also counting on eating simple dinners before 8pm in the apartment because I don't think I can count on getting food served in a Roman restaurant before that. Kitchens usually aren't ready. The at-home meal plan will be cold foods picked up at the markets and food shops on the way back from sightseeing, some high end like Roscioli's shop or Beppe's cheese store. Maybe cheap stuffed sandwiches from someplace like Lo Zozzone. If there is a good fresh pasta shop near the apartment for gnocchi or ravioli, then that might get boiled up since it only takes a few minutes. Loads of fruit. Key to the plan is eating with fingers and minimal clean-up or leftovers.
Some nights will include going out for pizza instead of meals in the apartment, if I can locate one that starts serving early enough and doesn't have lines, etc. And I figure every night, after dinner, everybody will head to the nearest biggest and liveliest piazza to eat gelato and hang out til bedtime. Or take walks with the gelato to fountains, which are fun at night.
I've been to some of the places you are considering for dinners and I don't think of them as being the kinds of places that will open earlier and serve earlier. They have very old owners and waiters. I also am not planning on any places, even for lunch, that require booking in advance. Just want to hang loose.
I figured I'd share that with you, although all kids and trips are different and you might want a different kind of experience in Rome.
My opinions on them aside, none on your list will serve food at 7pm. I don't have children so won't be able to give any good suggestions for your situation, but maybe having your sitdown meal at lunch and eating in the apartment for dinner is a better idea. Also, Armando is perfectly located but does not have any view whatsoever.
Kmzed - good points, thank you.
To both, I should have noted that we won't be cooking in the apartment. I love to cook, but not on vacation. We really enjoy cocktail hour to wind down our day and then we spend dinner recounting the adventures. 7:30 was offered at 3 of the locations in my list and we are fine with that time. You are right about Armando, I decided to give up view for the food quality but at least you walk to and from something amazing! Thanks to you both for your thoughts.
Everybody has their own pattern, but I highly recommend eating your main meal at lunchtime in Italy on at least some days Most churches, museums and stores are closed in midday and you will likely be footsore and ready for a good break. Lunch is that - at least this is something we and our kids always enjoyed. that creates less pressure in the evening. Since there is plenty of good prepared food , salumi, cheese, etc fruit, wine, etc availablein the markets, cooking at home is hardly necessary to eat there - or you can have light meals at a winebar, pizzeria etc..
Another thing you might consider - if you are going to be jetlagged anyway, no reason to reset your kids internal clocks on the home schedule - you can aim for a later bedtime and getting up time. On the other hand. morning tends to be be best tourist time in Rome, and getting a good start can make a big difference - there is nothing more frustrating than arriving at a church just as it is closing at midday.
One of the best pizza places in Rome is in Trastevere and it opens about 6/6:30 (closer to 6:30 usually)
Taverna Fori Imperiale in Monti opens at 7:30 and on Sundays and is one of my favorites.
If you are staying near Roscioli you can try Dar filettaro a Santa Barbara, a very classic Roman fried fish spot. It opens very early 5:30/6 ish.
Just bear in mind that restaurants that open their doors at 7.30pm still may not start serving until the kitchen is ready to start cooking. If scoopshvis has spoken with restaurants who have told her they will be serving at 7.30 (rather than just accepting a reservation for that hour), that's reassuring.
Also, just as a note to scoopshvis, our meal plan is a NO-COOK dinner one, especially since the travel window is July. (I probably shouldn't have mentioned my weakness for fresh pasta.) Idea is to raid the gastronomie. It's also true, however, that I probably get more antsy sitting in Italian restaurants than even 9 year olds do. I often find the dinner service so pokey but I love a relaxed Italian lunch outdoors.
I am definitely in the big lunch out/smaller dinner at home camp, which is what we almost always did when my boys were younger. That plan worked best for us, although you certainly know your own kids. I would seriously reconsider at least having Easter dinner in the early afternoon, as that is the traditional Sunday family meal time. As for the cocktail hour, it would be more typical to have a drink at a bar and then proceed to dinner.
For gnocchi, you might also want to consider L'Arcangelo--less central, but fantastic gnocchi. And I would be cautious about Roscioli. Their tables are very closely spaced, which makes them less than ideal with kids, and they tend to cook their pasta rather aggressively al dente--a bit too firm for my taste.
You have a good list. I pray that you will have better service than I got at Roscioli. I can strongly recommend La Campana, Enoteca Corsi, and Armando.
If you extend your dinner time to a start of 7:30, instead of 7, you should be ok in most places.
As far as dinner with the boys, I don't think I would recomend Roscioli. It's extremely claustrophobic and the staff is not that welcoming to kids. Although I love Settimio, the menu is very limited and your boys might not find anything they'd like.
Places with a view are hard at a reasonable price. Also, who knows what the weather will bring at Easter. You should be able to eat outside for lunch, but dinner will depend on how chilly it gets. There are a few places with very nice outdoor seating:
Pierluigi: Set in a gorgeous small piazza
Giggetto: Also has lovely outdoor seating with views of the portico d'ottavia and Teatro di Marcello.
Piperno: Old fashioned restaurant in Jewish Ghetto with beautiful outdoor seating in tiny hidden piazza.
Maybe for a view you'd like to stop and have a cocktail first? The Minerva has a lovely rooftop bar. A splurge, but maybe for your last night worth it?
Nerone has a big antipasto buffet, and some of the tables have views of the Colosseum. This might be a good place for lunch.