Tutta Bella Neapolitan Pizzeria just sent around word that kids under 12 will get free mini gelato cones after dinner, starting next Monday, August 6, through Labor Day. All four of these Neapolitan pizzerias are beloved of kids and their parents; a recent press release makes it amply clear why:

“On Sunday the Stone Way outpost is a particular family-favorite destination: There’s a live band and an area for kids to dance (known as ‘the Mosh Pit’), as well as a play room that parents affectionately refer to as ‘free baby-sitting.’
 
Show me a parent on earth who could resist that.

Plenty of restaurants seem to have an unnatural hold on the under-12 set, including Proletariat Pizza, Geraldine’s Counter, and Montlake Ale House (with its toy-filled play pit). But another that long has catered to kids, Vios on Capitol Hill, quietly shifted its emphasis last spring.

Sure, the gated play area in back of Vios is still there. Only now it’s separated from the main restaurant by high booths. More emphasis has been placed on its adult identity, with its larger imported foodstuffs and takeout deli up front.

“It was just getting a little…loud,” laughed a Vios server about the switch. Indeed, I can recall one meal there in which a rousing game of land-locked Marco Polo appeared to be raging between the tables. Apparently the play area was too limited for such a pursuit.  

And the parents? Appeared to be enjoying a little free baby-sitting.

Depending on where you are in life, you either love kid-friendly joints or you loathe them; that’s to be expected. But lest we go pointing fingers, I think we can agree that the behavior of the kids is less an issue than the behavior of the parents, who are, after all, the parents.

The danger with kid-friendly joints is that parents often seem to use them as places to tune out.

If you've found kid-friendly places in town that are tolerable for the kid-free, do share.