Just ASK!

Italian restaurants are our favoured choice of venue when dining out as a family. Pizza and pasta is great for children and we of course like it too – who doesn’t? It’s just fabulous to dine as a family, something we rarely get to do at home due to a lack of dining table space, so going out for a meal is important to us. We simply require a friendly atmosphere, no pretentions, understanding of flying food with cutlery dropping and most of all GOOD food!

In lots of other style restaurants menus for children are not particularly exciting but I find Italian chains seem to welcome children fantastically with their choices. Perhaps in Italy children are better catered for? I’m not sure but it does seem to be the way…

Yesterday we were invited to visit Ask Italian on Park Street to sample their new options for little ones. I expected it to be good from experience, I didn’t expect it to be so good that I would decide I could happily order from the menu myself… I was surprised. (The portions weren’t small either and I do like a doggy bag to take home which is so easy with pizza!) Ask Italian understand  how important it is to sit down as a family and dine, it’s the Italian way of life and they embrace children in the restaurants. They even came out on top in the Soil Association’s recent ‘Out to Lunch’ with children survey as top for their welcome for families!

Ask just seem to get it! They cater for children in every way offering high chairs and children’s cutlery as well as making their menu one that can be coloured in with crayons they have to hand! Once the little artist is done with their masterpiece they can even hang it up in the gallery area! This is such a good idea! Lots of places give crayons but sometimes my children get bored quickly and want to do something else. With the incentive of hanging their picture up and they’ll be colouring until the food comes which is what we want!

And the food… Oh the food we tried was delicious!

But I’m getting ahead of myself… Before we get on to eating the food we need to talk about making the food! And weren’t we the lucky ones! We had Theo Randall himself to help the little ones make a pizza! Ask Italian’s ‘Big Chef’ came out to give the children a demo and Theo then supported the four little ones in their cooking adventure! My children were joined by those of Modern Mummy and Family Four Fun as they all had super fun rolling, pushing, spreading and cheesing their very own creations before ‘Big Chef’, Theo and the children went down stairs to the super hot ovens and cooked them in minutes!

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‘Big Chef’ showed the children how to do it!

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They rolled and pushed the dough!

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Spread the herby tomato sauce on their bases!

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And piled them high with cheese!

The little ones had so much fun that I asked if they did something similar for birthday parties and they do. Florence is having an ‘I Can Cook’ party where we will make pizza so I know that it’ll be a winner as she and Jimmy loved it at the restaurant!

And then we got onto the eating… Oh boy did we get on to the eating!

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The children got to eat their own pizzas which was a very big hit. The room went just a little bit quiet as everyone tucked in and I couldn’t resist a try myself! They were totally yummy!

But the food din’t stop there… Oh no!

One of everything on the children’s menu was brought out and we all got to try a little (big) bit!

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The starter of Vegetable Crudites With Garlic Bread Sticks and Dip went down very well withall the children and with three pizza toppings to choose from there’s something for everyone. Mine are both pasta fans and tucked into the Penne Alla Bolognese which I also tried and can confirm it was yummy! The biggest winner for them was Spaghetti Carbonara, always a favourite of our whole family but one which has to be JUST as they like it and this one is! There’s even a chicken option for a small supplement and then a choice of deserts too! Children can have a starter, main course, desert and babyccino for just £6.25. Absolute bargain!

Luckily for us Theo took the children to another table for some fun and games and we got to loosen our belts and sample the adult menu too. It was divine and my Pork Belly Porchetta was divine!

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A sharing platter with the most delicious tapenade! I don’t usually like tapenade but I could have eaten a whole bowl of this and the meats, salads and bread were just beautiful!

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My main course was perfect!

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The children played and ate desert while we chatted and ate (mainly ate)!

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Oh desert was too good. I would never have chosen Almond, Plum and Pistachio Tart but because it came on a desert sharing board I got to sample the crunchy topped, sugary, yummy delight! I would choose it next time and not share it with anyone!

And then it was time to go home. I have been so impressed that we will definitely be back! I absolutely loved the food as did the children and because of the child friendly atmosphere it makes it the perfect family venue. Theo Randall devised the menu and he speaks so passionately about it that I assumed he was a partner in the chain too but he’s not! It just goes to show how good it is because with a recommendation from a chef like Theo how could you choose anything else!

I was invited to come and try the menu at Ask Italian but I have not been paid to write this post.