Eating Out With Toddlers in ItalyPosted: 07/20/2011
In the U.S., I ate out a lot. I hate cooking, so it was easier to let someone else do the cooking. Fast forward to life in Italy, I eat at home much more than I eat out. The whole logistics of eating out are different from in the states.
“What could be that different about eating out in Italy?” You may ask yourself.
Well, let me explain some of the things that make eating out difficult for my family.
Restaurants serve the evening meal later than in the United States. My kiddos are hungry by 5:30 PM (or 17:30 if you use the 24 hour clock). Italian restaurants do not typically open for the evening until 7 or 7:30 PM. If you are lucky enough to find a restaurant open, it will not typically be moving at a normal serving speed until 8 PM or later. So, it can take a looonnngg time between ordering and getting your food.
This may fly well with adults. Hey, just have an extra glass of prosecco while you wait. With toddlers…not so much. Not to mention, at my house, bedtime is around 8 PM. Behavior is not so great when I have exhausted kids. Even with an elementary aged kiddo, it is too late to eat out on a weeknight.
Most eating establishments do not have high-chairs or booster chairs. I dare you to try containing a wiggly toddler on a regular chair or on your lap. Probably not going to happen.
My solution was to buy one of those seats that attach to the table for my little one. Most times this solution works pretty well. Occasionally, the table is an odd size and the chair does not fit. It is a definite must-have for those families with small children in my book.
Often, there are no kids menus. If you order for your children, they have the same menu choices as you. The prices are the same, as well. Drinks are full price and milk is not always an option. Bring your own.
Luckily, almost every restaurant has pizza. The pizza is usually fairly reasonably priced and you can split one pizza between several children to save on cost. We usually order pasta and ask for an extra plate. Bread sticks are almost always out on tables, which are great to keep a toddler munching with no cost.
If you love to eat out, plan ahead and make up an eating out kit. Bring a bag with your baby seat, books or small toys and a plastic sippy cup. Eating out will prove much easier if you do!