I didn't set out to give my son his first bite of pizza made by a Michelin-rated chef in Italy — it just happened.
It was my family's first visit to Rome and my husband and I had hungrily made a list of must-eat pizzerias, trattorias, and gelaterias we wanted to visit throughout our two-week stint. The fact that our almost 1-year-old was with us didn't sway our sweet, savory, or star-level proclivities toward the Eternal City's great food establishments. If we were going to travel across an ocean to one of the world's most delicioso districts, we were going to eat well — child or not!
Perusing our Rome restaurant list, we found a sleek space mixing sit-down service with a boutique market complete with glass-encased meats, cheeses, and pizzas that made me wish I'd worn Lycra. Hovering somewhere between everyday and gourmet, the restaurant seemed like a sure bet for our first meal. The only problem (or opportunity!) for our "two adults + toddler" situation was that the restaurant was helmed by a Michelin-rated chef.
We went anyway.
We stepped into Romeo Chef & Baker at 2 p.m. when the lunch rush was over and the restaurant was at a midday lull. Perfetto!
Chef Cristina Bowerman — the only woman to be awarded a Michelin star in 2010 — was mulling about the restaurant during our visit. Her presence made me a bit nervous to be sitting at her fine eatery with a toddler, but she nor anyone else seemed to mind.
We ordered quickly, knowing our son's good behavior might expire at any time. First: Italian wine (which I may have gulped in an effort to soothe my stress). Second: A giant sphere of burrata adorned with vine-ripened tomatoes. Third: Pizza.
That's when things got embarrassing — not for my son or my husband, but for me! I took a bite, gave our little guy a nibble, and promptly started crying. I just couldn't believe our son's first pizza was in Italy and made by a Michelin-starred chef. Sometimes the Michelin stars align; this was one of those times, and the occasion was not lost on me.
While I'm certainly not on a mission to ensure my son's "food firsts" are all Michelin-starred, the experience taught me an important lesson: Just because you have a tot (or tots!) in tow, doesn't mean you have to sacrifice experiences, especially culinary ones! In fact, I'd argue that these experiences can be even more impactful when they're shared with your little one (witness my emotional outburst!).
Of course, you should be aware of your fellow diners, take your child's temperament into account, and be prepared to ask for il conto (the bill) right away if your traveling tyke becomes frustrated or fussy. Here are a few tips for taking your fledgling foodie to a high-end restaurant.
3 Tips for Taking Your Child to a High-End Restaurant
1. Confirm that the restaurant allows kids. It's also helpful to find out what sort of amenities (like highchairs and any offerings for picky eaters) are available.
2. Make a reservation at an early hour (before the masses arrive) so there's less pressure on you, and your child is not overtired.
3. Visit other restaurants in anticipation of the event, so you and your child are used to eating in that type of setting.
Have you ever taken your children to a fancy restaurant? Tell us in the comments below.