365 Restaurants, 2 Kids, 1 Giant Fiasco
Okay, Murphinians, this one’s for you! As always, when the Phipps team has a strategy, something goes wrong. Today things went very wrong…for Ogre anyway. He woke up not feeling too great, said something about his stomach being queasy, but it wasn’t too bad. We planned a few days ago to go to Picasso’s for dinner tonight at the suggestion of one of our readers. I thought we could make a day of it by going out to Flower Mound to have the kids gets some pumpkins at the Flower Mound Pumpkin Patch. On the way home, we’d go to Picasso’s, which is on the Tollway, so we’d pass nearby. I should’ve known by the delay in leaving the house that things were going south. By the time we were headed home, Ogre announced that he couldn’t even sit at Picasso’s while the rest of us ate, he needed to go home. Unfortunately, not only would we be out a Phipps again, I’d have to dine alone with the kids (ack!) and we’d be heading out to dinner 30 minutes later than anticipated (at nearly 8 o’clock) AND Benjamin had not napped ALL DAY! I was not looking as forward to this.
Not to mention the fact that I had to pick a new place to eat dinner. I was definitely staying close to the house and wanted a quick in and quick out. I decided we’d cross city limits into Murphy. There’s a place in one of the strip malls called Niki’s Italian Bistro that I’ve always wondered about.Tonight was as good a night as any to stop wondering. I unloaded the kids and bypassed the chair for Benj tonight. I couldn’t handle all three. We opted for the high chair. They told us to seat ourselves so I let Mina pick the table, before we could even sit down, she had to go the bathroom. All three of us headed to the restroom. The Women’s restroom was out of order so the lady told us to use the Men’s. That grosses me out, but it was relatively clean. No changing stations though. Once we were done with that detour, we got settled at our table and I looked at the menu after our waiter took our drink order. I asked Mina about dinner, she and Benjamin were going to split the Baked Ziti. I decided to try the Pasta Combo (lasagna, manicotti, and stuffed shells). A combo would be a good since we were short a taster.
They brought out some fresh hot bread and the waiter took our order. Now it was time to wait. I was nervous about their behavior. They don’t have any crayons for the kids here so it was just up to me to be the entertainment. I was particularly worried about Benji, but he was in a super good mood. He was very impresed with the “lah” overhead, which was a huge chandelier. He and Mina both really liked the bread, I did not even bring up the butter to avoid a Benjamin fiasco with “mo mo yeah bee” (translated: more butter). Mina asked for some butter, but I explained to her that none of us would be having butter tonight and she understood.
While we waited for our food, the three of us goofed around. There were a few times when Benjamin got a little too loud (but happy loud) for my comfort and, of course, my “Shhh” was just mocked by the two of them. Benjamin and Mina especially loved chomping at the bread. To distract Benji, I act like I am biting at his bread and I say, “CHHOMMP!” and he erupts in laughter. I erupt in laughter when I see the two them doing it!
Mina told me that in PE, she learned where her abs and gluteus maximus were. She asked me about the calf. I told her it was called the gastrocnemius muscle and she looked at me like I was crazy. I guess they didn’t learn that. She meant what word came after “calf”? Calf muscle. Ohhhh.
When dinner arrived, they had my entree and two plates of ziti, I hoped that had not made a mistake. Nope, they just had the forethought to split it up for the kids. Nice. I started snapping away and one of the waiters asked if I wanted him to take our picture. Sure. That was very kind of him. I’m sure he thought I was a freak for taking so many pictures and for taking pictures of the food!
I plated Benji’s food and Mina started to eat hers. On the way here, she asked me about eating vegetables and I did tell her that “of course” she’d have to eat vegetables tonight. She asked where her vegetable was. I replied, “Well, looks like we aren’t eating vegetables after wall.” She raised her fist in triumph and said, “Maybe this restaurant doesn’t like vegetables either!”
Benjamin proceded to stuff his face with the ziti saying “Gooo” (good). I would make him laugh by blowing on my food and telling him it was hot. He kept asking for “mo mo yeah” (more, yes). He had almost finished his whole plate in the time Mina ate 3 noodles. That’s about when the Mina negotiations fired up. “How many more Ziti noodles do I have to eat?” I would reply, “Just keep eating, Mina.” She would say, “Aw, man. Two? Three?” and this would go on and on.
Benjamin continued to amuse himself and me. His screaming did get a little out of control and I felt some stares coming from the lady reading a book a few tables over. Luckily, I was able to distract him by dancing in my seat. If the lady looked over, I’m sure she would’ve taken Benji’s screaming over my dancing.
Benjamin and I both finished our dinners and Mina was still turtle pacing hers. I finally told her 3 more noodles as Benjamin was asking for “dow dow” (down) and I did not want him wandering around. We got the check and Mina finished her last 3 ziti (I trust, I didn’t actually see her do it). I wiped the kids off and we headed out to the car that was conveniently parked right out front.
The food here is decent. Not the best and certainly not the worst Italian I’ve ever had. I think it’s fine for a quick, inexpensive Italian meal if you live in the area. The bread was very good. It is served hot with a garlic butter melted on top of the large rolls.
Both of our entrees were swimming in marinara sauce. The marinara sauce was good, but it was pretty generic tasting. (I don’t consider this a bad thing). I was able to sample the manicotti, the lasagna, and the stuffed shells. Of the three, the stuffed shell was my favorite. Next was the lasagna -it was not as hearty and/or meaty as I prefer. The manicotti was also pretty generic. I don’t have anything bad to say about any of those three dishes, but “WOW” never came to mind after a bite.
The kids enjoyed their Baked Ziti. The sauce wasn’t too herby or strange, so they liked it just fine. I ordered some extra marinara sauce for Mina since she usually like to dip her noodles. Didn’t need to do that here as the dish had a ton of marinara already!
Great service today. Our waitstaff was very attentive, any waiter that walked by asked if things were going okay. And, of course, there was the guy that offered to take our picture.
They have a good kids menu. No activities to entertain the kids. The acoustics are such that your screaming child will be heard above everyone else, so be aware!! It’s a casual, laid back restaurant, thought and it wasn’t packed on a Saturday night, so I think you’d be fine if you want an inexpensive, decent Italian restaurant to bring the family to for dinner.
The total: $17.92
I don’t know what Guidelive said because they have an error message when I looked it up. Sorry.
Childsplate.com chronicles our journey to find the perfect family restaurant. We are looking for restaurants with excellent food and a great attitude towards kids, even the whiny, cranky ones! We will be headed out to a different restaurant every single day to provide ourselves (and you) with some entertainment and good information about DFW area restaurants. We hope you will visit frequently and use our experiences to create some fun dining experiences of your own! Watch out, DFW, the Phipps family is going out to eat!