When eating out, childrens menus are a mixed bag. Some like Pizza Express tend to get them pretty spot on (although I’m not sure that N by the age of 10 will be satisfied with the kids menu) as do Bella Pasta with their 2 younger and older kids sizes. I also like places like Cotswold Wildlife Park who have sandwich lunch boxes, but hot meal options across the standard menu with small and larger choices at good prices. At the other end of the scale you get places who just don’t offer a children’s option at all, and you’re scrabbling around trying to find sandwiches that don’t have sundried tomato infused flatbreads, mustard, horseradish or fussy posh cheeses in (actually posh cheese would go down ok with N as long as there wasn’t pickle involved).
When we go on holiday (or even just out for the day), we rarely do picnics, preferring to eat out. On day trips I can’t be bothered dragging around a massive cool bag all day. And on holidays we’re usually in a hotel with bed and breakfast so the occasional sandwich bought takeaway to eat in a park might happen, but mostly we stop somewhere to eat. In the evenings we’ll look for a mix of local restaurants, and branded chains.
Mozzarella Joe’s had appeared during my research in Southsea and Portsmouth before we’d even arrived. When we walked along Southsea esplanade on our first afternoon, we spotted it virtually opposite the hotel across the common. So it was a nobrainer going there for our first evening meal. Overlooking the sea, from the outside it looks like a funky beach front café, while inside it’s a little more modern than chilled out surfer caff.
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They have a kids menu as well as the usual grills, pastas and pasta on the adults menu. There were plenty of staff around, and N was pleased to be able to see a pizza oven in action. N chose to sit inside, although it was noisy inside because of what I suspect was a Vitamix* blender being used regularly for smoothies. So if it’s dry and sunny, outside on decking overlooking the sea would be a more peaceful meal.
The children’s menu was £7 for a main course, drink and dessert. I’d spotted £3.50 and thought ‘what a bargain’, then realised afterwards that was a supplementary charge if you added something more pricy to your menu. Not so cheap then. N chose a pepperoni pizza which is his current favourite. I decided on spaghetti carbonara.
But when N’s pizza came it was huge. A giant pizza. I swear it was bigger than the standard size Pizza Express pizzas. Insane for a children’s menu. I had to check that it was the children’s menu they’d put him down for! Needless to say he only ate 2 slices of it, and luckily we could take the rest away with us. I think we probably could have shared it. The dessert choice for the kids menu was only a jelly pouch, fruit pot or Nutella and breadsticks, so not the best. I’m sure a scoop of ice cream would have been better and preferred by more children, although N was very excited about his jelly.
I did then worry about the size of my portion of pasta but it was a normal size. Unfortunately N’s pizza was more tasty than my carbonara which seemed to have no seasoning or flavour in at all. Very disappointing as not many places get it wrong.
With us both pretty stuffed afterwards, we basically rolled out of the restaurant and over to the park so N could play off some of his pizza, before heading back to the hotel.
If you’re after a quick easy and not ridiculously expensive meal out with a nice view of the sea, then do give Mozzarella Joe’s a go. But if you’ve got young children, get them to share a meal unless you want to take it away to reduce waste!
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