Do Kids' Menus at Restaurants Make Children Picky Eaters?


Ronda Kaysen:Nicola Marzovilla thinks that children's menus are the death of civilization. You know the ones he's talking about, with the standard fare of macaroni and cheese, cheeseburgers and maybe (if you're lucky) spaghetti with marinara sauce.

If you walk into Marzovilla's Manhattan eatery, don't expect to find any chicken fingers with French fries. He doesn't offer up anything "special" for the kids, and he plans to keep it that way. Instead, he tells inquiring moms, "I'm sure we can find something your child will like." The New York Times sat down with Marzovilla's kids and confirmed for the rest of us that they eat practically everything -- including snails, raw fish and rabbit.

Moms have come to expect the kids' menu, with its smaller portions, cheaper prices and totally unadventurous options. When a pizzeria in Mom Central (otherwise known as Park Slope, Brooklyn) opened earlier this month without a kids' menu, there was practically a mommy riot.

But Marzovilla doesn't think we're doing our kids any favors by shielding them from the myriad flavors available to grownups -- and he's on a mission to wean our kids off of it.

I feel him, I really do. It makes me cringe when I walk into a restaurant with a lovely, yummy menu and the kids' menu is filled with the same bland, boring things.

But at the same time, I'm not about to drop $14 on a plate of something my 2-year-old might not even touch. Five dollars seems like a much more reasonable amount of money to spend filling his tiny tummy.

It would be great if more restaurants would offer smaller portions of regular entrees at smaller prices. But it's outrageous to think that most parents these days would consider buying an adult-sized entree for a small child.

Entrees at I Trulli, Marzovilla's restaurant, will set you back anywhere from $24 to $38, which is just a silly amount of money to spend on a kid. Not only will he not finish it -- if he even likes it -- but he probably shouldn't, given that it's large enough to feed a person several times his size.

Moms, what do you think of the predictable kids' menus at restaurants? Do you wish they'd mix it up, or are you just relieved when there's something on it your kid will actually eat?


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