Neighborhood favorite: Paisan

Paisan is a high-end pizzeria with the welcoming atmosphere of your favorite neighborhood joint.

Pizza style? Italian with a wood-fired pizza oven that juts out into the back patio. Fun to watch. Tasty to eat. (I explained it to my friends this way, “if Zachary’s is Chicago-style and Lanesplitters is New York style, then this is Italian style, and there is room for all manners of pizza in my world-view. It’s like Berkeley’s answer to Pizzaolo”)

Family-friendly virtues? Ok, don’t get me wrong, this place is cool. If you come by after 8pm, you’re going to see the groovy people at the bar talking about important things. But the place has a noisy din and can be welcoming for babies and toddlers in the earlier hours.

Examples:

  • They let my sons drive their bikes (one two-wheeler and one trike) through the restaurant to park in the courtyard.
  • They provided a blob of raw dough for handling before our food was ready.*
  • Clean bathrooms with changing tables.
  • Wide aisles for navigating with a stroller.
  • Ambient noise at just the right level to disguise the noise of your child.
  • Pizza!

The rest of the food is so good. I’ve become so addicted to the farro salad that I have trouble ordering other food.

Hours: Check website for hours for regular food and brunch service. Yum.

* Rookie mom tip from SusieJ: order uncooked dough at a restaurant. Any restaurant that makes pizza, tortillas, or their own bread, has dough on hand. Getting some of it to your table can keep a preschooler (and in our experience, everyone else at the table) entertained for the whole time you are waiting for the food. [via RookieMoms.com]