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Family restaurants in France and Italy

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Oct 8th, 2014, 04:34 PM
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Family restaurants in France and Italy

Next Spring, we are taking our last two kids in the house, both teenagers, to Europe. We plan on visiting Paris, Sorrento and Rome. Would love recommendations of restaurants that are family friendly, and budget friendly. We don't drink, so a fantastic wine list doesn't really matter in our case. Doesn't have to be McDonald's or Denny's budget, but preferably not Ruth's Chris prices either. Thanks all!
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Oct 8th, 2014, 05:08 PM
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A couple of notes.

In europe soft drinks are very small and very expensive - so get the kids used to drinking either water or wine/beer depending on their ages. (Our DDs drank wine and water with dinner form the age of 14/15 on.) A tiny can of coke can be $4 or more - so get large bottles and refill with water in the hotel for a very significant savings. You can also get very large bottles of soda to carry with you - but don't bring them to restaurants - there you should learn to ask for tap water..

Portions in France and Italy are generally quite a bit smaller than in the US - so assume you may need to order more courses - esp if you have teens boys that are big eaters (my B and his friends at the age of 14 and 15 could empty a refrigerator in a couple of hours.)

You don;t want "family restaurants" - you just want casual places. Both countries have a large number of cafes, brasseries, pizzerias and even sandwich shops that have food at non luxury prices - but do expect prices about 1/3 higher than in the US (as measured by comparative prices at McDonald's, Hard Rock, Friday's, etc in europe). You will see menus with prices outside - and avoid places with menus in multiple languages or with pictures - they are sure to have poor food and high prices.
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Oct 8th, 2014, 07:12 PM
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You might consider buying a couple of guide books.
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Oct 8th, 2014, 08:23 PM
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near Florence:
http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...aten-track.cfm
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Oct 8th, 2014, 08:34 PM
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In Paris.. Hippopotomus.. its good .. its a family restaurant,, good prices.. something for everyone.

Also.. Leon Bruxelles.. its a mussels and fries chain( actually from Beligium ) they do have non mussel choices though..

And finally Chez Clements.. good basic fare.. but nice enough for mom and dad to have a decent meal.

All these places have a few locations.. locals go to them.. and while they offer some more "French" type options.. they offer dishes even a fussy kid would like, one or two even have childrens menus.

Oh yeah.. and for a full breakfast( as opposed to crossiants bread and coffee) .. ie eggs and pancakes.. try Breakfast in America.. good prices.. 7-12 euros for omelettes, eggs, pancakes etc.. plus something you will never find in Europe.. a bottomless cup of coffee. Two locations..
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Oct 8th, 2014, 09:29 PM
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Thanks justineparis. That's what I was going for. I appreciate the restaurant names. I was hoping to get some places that people have eaten at, enjoyed, etc...
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Oct 8th, 2014, 09:44 PM
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I have eaten at all except Hippopotomus. I liked them all, as did my 11 yr old and 13 yr olds.
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Oct 9th, 2014, 01:56 AM
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In Italy, we found that the wine shops (Enoteca) are a good place to get restaurant recommendations. In France, we have had better luck at the cheese shops. In both countries, we have generally been lucky by checking the patrons in the restaurants and going to the places with many locals in them.Don't be put off by the television showing the local sports on the walls, that is often obligatory to collect a local crowd.

In France, look for a round sign displaying the words "Cheque Dejuner." The Cheque is provided by employers and is roughly equal to 12 Euros. Local workers are provided these as part of their compensation and exchange them for full meal, three courses and usually with a beverage included. The places that accept these often provide very good local food for that price, and we often make lunch our main meal of the day as we travel locally.
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Oct 9th, 2014, 04:37 AM
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Italy is probably the most family friendly place in the world. I've never seen a restaurant there where kids weren't welcome. I don't often go to Michelin starred restaurants, but the ones I have gone to were just as welcoming of kids as the others.

There are many people in Italy who don't drink anything alcoholic at all, including my husband, so you won't stick out like a sore thumb if you don't order wine. Most Italians drink mineral water with their meals. However, Coca Cola is now a very popular accompaniment to pizza, and I've never seen it cost €4. €2 is more typical, which is also the price of a small beer.

Any pizzeria is a very family friendly place to eat. If you want specific names, here are a few:

There's a good pizza chain called Rossopomodoro, which has pizzerias in various cities. I know they have at least two in Rome. They specialize in Naples-style pizzas, and they also have other specialties, including pasta and meat courses, from that region. They have some plates that are made entirely with local ingredients, with the mark of approval of the Slow Food movement, and these are marked on the menu. One of their locations in Rome is at Largo Argentina, a short walk from the Pantheon, Campo dei Fiori, and Piazza Navona, where you might be at lunchtime some day.

Insalata Ricca is another Italy-wide chain, specializing in main-dish salads. I've only eaten there once or twice, but the quality was good when I was there.

There are lots of places, especially in Rome, that sell pizza by the slice (Pizza al taglio), which is a good and quick meal when you have little time to spare. However, there's often no place to sit, or, if there is, the pizza will usually cost extra. Be sure to check the price if you're sitting at a table. This also goes for gelato or anything bought at a bar. There are usually different prices for standing and sitting. Both prices are supposed to be posted near the register.

For specific places, which are not chains, I can recommend in Rome a few places. In the Vatican area, there are many restaurants that are true rip-offs, finding all sorts of ingenious ways to fleece the tourists. Be very careful to ask the price of every crumb of bread that you order, or that a waiter offers you. One restaurant that we've found to be honest and very good as well, is La Pancia Felicia (the Happy Tummy), near Castel Sant'Angelo.

Not too far from Trevi Fountain, Il Ristorantino and Cantina Cantarini are good. Both specialize in seafood. From Thursday through Saturday, Cantina Cantarini serves only seafood. Their fresh fish is delicious. However, when ordering fresh fish, you should be aware that the price on the menu is almost always per hectogram (about a quarter pound). Since fish vary greatly in size, that's the only reasonable way to price a whole fish. You should ask what the average weight of the fish is, and how many people it would serve. (Some fish have more waste than others.)

Steak is also usually sold by weight. If you see a price on a menu followed by "/hg", that's the price per hectogram.

The Una Hotel, near Termini station, has somewhat more elegant meals, but reasonably priced and family friendly. There are also two self-service cafeterias in Termini station, one near track 24 and one on the upper level, where you can get a quick and decent meal.

A nice casual restaurant near the Colosseum, is La Nuova Piazzetta, on Via del Buon Consiglio. This is another area where there are many tourist rip-offs. A waiter once asked us, as soon as we sat down, and before we saw the menu, "Shall I bring you a bottle of water right away?" It was a hot day, and we gratefully accepted. However, the water cost more than the pasta! The price was on the menu, but we hadn't checked it yet.

A more elegant restaurant near the Colosseum is La Taverna degli Amici, in Piazza Margana. It's a little difficult to find, but it's in a charming little piazza with a medieval tower. This would be good for a special meal, as it's a bit more expensive than the others I've mentioned.

I don't really have any advice about restaurants in Sorrento. I've only been there once, and I don't remember where we ate.

It would be worth your while to learn what types of food are traditional in the places you visit. In Rome and Sorrento, things like tortellini and ravioli will be seen on the menu, but they're not traditional in these regions, and they're not likely to be the best choices on the menu.

In all of Italy, a service charge (servizio) can be added to your check; it has to be shown on the menu. A menu has to be displayed outside the restaurant or at the entrance. In most parts of Italy, you will also be charged for "pane e coperto" (bread and cover, which is tablecloth and silverware). This is legal even if you don't eat the bread. However, in Rome, this extra cost can't be added. The bread will usually be brought to your table anyway; if you don't want it, tell the waiter so before he walks away. Once he leaves, you've bought it.

Check your bill carefully, and ask about anything you don't understand. Also, check the addition if it's been done by hand. For some reason, mistakes never seem to be in my favor.
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Oct 9th, 2014, 04:48 AM
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For those recoing kiddie restaurants - the OP asked for "family restaurants" - but they are talking about teenagers - not toddlers or preschool kids. So I think it's more a price thing not a kiddy menu thing.
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Oct 9th, 2014, 04:59 AM
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The problem with recommendations is that they could be on the other side of the city from where you are staying. In most parts of Paris and Rome there will be inexpensive restaurants.

Wander your neighborhood and look at menus posted and check their prices. You might want to focus on 2 or 3 course fixed price "menus" which offer less expensive meals.

Also look at restaurant recommendations in the Let's Go guide books which suggest filling, inexpensive choices. In Paris you can get ham and cheese crepes from street vendors or walk up windows; these are filling and inexpensive.
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Oct 9th, 2014, 05:22 AM
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I think the OP is looking for restaurants that are good mid-price places--not Hippo or MacDonald's. There are many many everywhere.
Agree with Adrienne--just look at the posted menus as you travel around, or in your neighborhood.
If you like mussels, Leon's is quite good for a large variety.
In France, as noted, cokes are eyewateringly expensive!! If you sit down in a café for breakfast (even of the croissants and café) it will be more expensive than if you stand at the counter.
A picnic picked up at a traiteur or street market and taken to a park is not only good, but fun. Do it on the champ de Mars with the Eiffel Tower in the picture!!
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Oct 9th, 2014, 06:56 AM
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I totally disagree with eating in chain restaurants in Italy like Rossopomodoro or Insalata Ricca. Sprinking a few slow food-approved ingredients on the industrial food doesn't change the basically poor taste and poor value.

Sodas are NOT that expensive. This is a weird hobbyhorse that NYtraveler rides every single time she spots a post from the parent of a teen coming to Europe. I don't know what happened in her life that has made her think paying 3 euros for a soda in an Italian restaurant in Italy is EXPENSIVE -- unless its a lifetime of getting 79 cent Bottomeless Big Gulps somewhere. A glass of wine, or a glass of beer, or a soda, pretty much cost the same in restaurants in Italy.

Family and food sharing across generations is a HUGE part of Italian history and I hope that when you are with your family in Italy you will eat in family-run places and experience a different culture that isn't about chain restaurants or foods most Italians rarely eat, like salads.

In reality, for 99 percent of tourists visiting Europe, the places they eat are near the sights they want to see and near their hotel. If you want to eat happily and affordably with your family, figure out where you are staying and where you are going each day and assemble a list of plausible non-tourist trap spots near there. The last thing you will want to be doing when your family is starving and footsore is set everybody out walking even further to hunt down some address where someone you don't know on the internet liked their salad.

It is a myth that there is no good food near the tourist sights, so first figure out where you will be during lunchtime each day and then do the research for what tastes good near there that's in your budget.
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Oct 9th, 2014, 08:08 AM
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I never understand what people mean by "family restaurants" when they are talking about eating out in Italy, as nearly every restaurant I have been to has had families dining. But here are a few of my favorite small spots in Rome that are on the more casual side:

Pizzarium, near the Vatican for interesting pizza by the slice. No tables, but there are a few spots where you can stand and eat, along with a bench outside.

Cul De Sac on Via Pasquina (near Eustacio - our favorite place for coffee drinks). We had a great lunch of large salads (we were at the pasta breaking point).

Forno Roscioli near Campo di Fiori is great for take-away.
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Oct 9th, 2014, 08:12 AM
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I haven't often eaten at Insalata Ricca, so I don't want to go to the wall for them, but the Rossopomodoro at Largo Argentina is not a restaurant with "poor taste and poor value". It's better than most of the anonymous pizzerias you'll find in the touristic center of Rome. We're not talking about Il Pagliaccio, but for a family pizza, it's a good choice.
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Oct 9th, 2014, 08:19 AM
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Hippos is not comparable to McDonalds. It is comparable to a family type restaurant, and many locals consider it a good basic "family " restaurant.. not a fast food joint. Have you eaten there?

I was however not aware that OP was looking for teens type family places, for me a teen is not a child and can eat anything or anywhere an adult could.

In that case if it is in fact a money question it is simple to look at displayed menus( as explained in other posts,, menus are always displayed outside restaurants) and just seeing if there is anything on there you like and if the prices jibe with what you want to pay.
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Oct 9th, 2014, 09:39 AM
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Also remember that you do not leave a tip in an Italian restaurant. Helps put the true costs of a meal in perspective.
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Oct 9th, 2014, 12:09 PM
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In Paris, if you are walking around the Jewish Quarter in the Marais - L'as Du Fallafel (Rue de Rosiers)
We also enjoyed the food hall at Galeries Lafayette; and while you are in the building the view from the roof (where there was a fairly expensive restaurant) is tremendous.
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Oct 9th, 2014, 01:56 PM
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And there won't be any sales tax tacked on at the end.
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Oct 9th, 2014, 02:16 PM
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Thanks for the restaurant names. I will write them all down!
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