More and more restaurants in Seattle, and across the nation, are finding that perfect balance between serving delicious food that will make foodie parents swoon with delight (foodies are the new hipsters, right?), while still creating an environment that embraces children with open arms. Maybe it’s a new wave of parents teaching their little ones how to behave properly in a restaurant or maybe it’s that family-friendly restaurants are upping their game to draw in a crowd that now holds higher standards for what they are feeling themselves and their kids. Whatever the case may be, restaurants that follow suit create a win-win situation – happy parents, happy kids!

Two restaurants that embrace this concept of bringing family-friendly dining up a notch are Mondello Ristorante Italiano and Queen Margherita – both owned and operated by a Seattle dad, Corino, who has young children of his own.

Mondello’s, as it’s lovingly known, is a staple in the Magnolia neighborhood. At first glance you wouldn’t peg it as a place that is kid-friendly – if you peer in the windows, date-night would be your first thought: it’s cozy with dim lighting and delicate fresh flowers on every table. However, look a little closer and you’ll reconsider – especially during the week, most tables will be filled with families – some with kids still in their baseball uniforms after playing a long game at the fields that are not even a block over. Menu-wise, no kid-menu necessary at Mondello’s – there are so many kid-friendly choices on the menu (Gnocchi Pomodoro is a fave! Perfect to split between two little ones…) and, they are happy to whip up a plate of what every kid seems to love – noodles with butter and cheese.

We hesitate to tell you that Queen Margherita is a pizza place, because although pizza is the staple of their menu, this isn’t your average pie. Queen Margherita serves Neapolitan-style pizza that is quickly fired (for just over a minute!) in their custom-made stone wood-fire pizza oven. Some people aren’t into Neapolitan-style pizza – it’s certainly a far cry from your traditional pepperoni with extra cheese – but, if you’ve tried it before and haven’t fallen in love, we suggest you head to Queen Margherita and give it another go. The pizza is light and fresh, not soggy and heavy, as you’d think it might be. Kids love it because the slices are easy to eat and well, it’s delicious! The menu at Queen Margherita will truly satisfy both parents and kids – be sure to ask for their daily specials, which are over-the-top innovative and amazing, and check out the “I Bambini” section of the menu, which even includes a sauce-less, cheese-only pizza that is a hit. And, don’t even think about walking out the door before you indulge in their Pizza DI Nutella – just trust us on this one, okay?

Also part of the Mondello’s/Queen Margherita-family of kid-friendly restaurants was the beloved Enza Cucina Siciliana on Queen Anne, which had recently converted to Polpetta under the same ownership before closing its doors in January 2012. Queen Anne families are still keeping their fingers crossed that Enza will re-open another restaurant in Seattle soon and we’ll be sure to let you know when she does so that you can add it to your list of places to enjoy a leisurely dinner with kids in tow.

Beyond the food, both Mondello’s and Queen Margherita just have that something magical that makes them a place that your family will love —  it feels warm and friendly in both restaurants – like you’re going to dinner at the home of a friend, rather than dining out. We absolutely love that you’ll find owner, Corino, and often Mama Enza herself, at the restaurants – chatting with customers like they are catching up with friends.

Mondello Ristorante Italiano
2425 33rd Avenue West, Seattle, Wa
206-352-8700
Online: www.mondelloristorante.com

Queen Margherita
3111 West McGraw Street, Seattle, Wa
206-548-4908
Online: www.queenmargheritaseattle.com

Have you taken your kids to one of these yummy spots? Tell us about your experience and what you loved in the comments below!

— Katie Kavulla

Photo credit: “Pizza Eating Bubba” by slickjer via Flickr
Photo credit: Wood-Fired Oven by Mondello