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If the stars align—and the contractors keep to their schedules—Allison Arevalo will open Pasta Louise in Park Slope (803 8th Ave) in late May. Arevalo is a prophet of pasta, the chef and author behind Homeroom, a mac-and-cheese restaurant in Oakland, CA, and Pasta Friday, a weekly meal that became a community-building event—and a cookbook! As Sophia Loren once said, "Everything you see I owe to spaghetti.”
When Arevalo moved back to New York with her family, she decided to open the kind of family-friendly where she would want to go: A fun restaurant that lets kids be kids, and that lets adults eat and drink like adults. Pasta Louise will give back to Brooklyn with the Pasta Rose Scholarship, which will be awarded to college-bound high school students who have lost a parent to cancer. What more could you want from great family restaurants in NYC?
Here's how it will work: You order and pay at the counter just like at other fast-casual restaurants, but waiters will check to see if you need another glass of something, saving you the trouble of standing in line again. The pasta will be freshly-extruded, the wine list will be thoughtful, and the tables will be filled with bouncy kids who totally deserve to end the meal with what a treat from might be one of the most Instagramable dessert spots in NYC.
Time Out New York Kids caught up with Arevalo, and asked her to reveal the secrets of the perfect family-friendly restaurant.
What’s the idea behind the restaurant?
There’s a lot of great pasta in Brooklyn, but not a lot of it is at family-friendly places. You want to be in a place where it’s ok for your kid to be a little loud, and where your kid is eating good fresh pasta, and where you can have a nice glass of wine.
Homeroom in Oakland, was extremely kid-friendly. We not only had a great mac-and-cheese, we had adult mac-and-cheeses, like one with goat cheese, or with crab, and we had really good wine and really good beer and wine. It was a place for families because it had things that kids and adults really enjoyed. I’m going to incorporate a similar concept into Pasta Louise.
What are the keys to a good family-friendly restaurant?
- Make it fast-casual. You order, you pay and you sit. That way you don’t have to wait around for a check. If you have a tight schedule, like you have to get your kids to a soccer game, it’s important to be able to leave when you need to leave.
- Roving waiters. We’ll have waiters walking around with devices so if you need to get another glass of something you don’t have to go back and wait in line.
- A good kid’s menu. I’m so tired of seeing chicken fingers and fries. I’m still working out the kid’s menu, but I know there’s going to be a mac and cheese, a pasta with vegetables, a side of roasted vegetables. I want kids to have something healthy but that they really want to eat.
- A kid’s program. You have to do more than have some broken crayons and a sheet of paper. We’ll have puzzles, and games. We’ll have a mural with pasta shapes hidden inside the design so that kids can try to find. I want them to feel engaged and excited to be in the space.
- A kid’s Happy Hour. We’re located close to a lot of schools, and there’s this rush of kids out on the streets at 3pm. I want to have a a soft serve machine, hot chocolate in the winter, and offer some kid of discount if you come in with your kids right after school.
What do kids want to eat?
Pasta with red sauce, or butter. Mac-and-cheese.
What’s a transitional pasta, a dish that kids like and that will expand their tastes?
I make a pasta with cannellini beans and butter that’s yummy. I sautée some cannellini beans to crisp them up, and others I mash into the sauce to make it creamy. It has a lot of protein and, it’s really good with fresh pasta and pecorino.
What do you want kids to eat?
Spicy food. My husband and I love spicy food, and I’m trying to build up the spice palate of my boys, but it’s a long road. And leafy greens. It’s really hard to get my kids to eat anything like a salad.
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