marotta’s by way of melt

For the better part of a year, I’ve been craving The Parmageddon at Melt. Since pretty much the entire month of December was devoted to overeating, I figured this week was a good time to go. We arrived this past Tuesday right before 5. I figured it was early enough that we wouldn’t have much of a wait. Wrong. The wait was a good two hours. It’s a holiday week after all. Good for them that they continue to be so popular and that people are willing to wait; that’s a good problem to have. But we’re not those people. If it was just us, perhaps (we have waited an hour before). But we had a toddler with us, and even if Elmo himself was preparing and serving the grilled cheese, she still couldn’t last that long. My craving will just have to wait a bit longer.

So we headed to Marotta’s instead for some pizza pie, as Natalie likes to say. I like this place – a lot. In fact, they might just make my favorite pizza that I’ve tasted so far in Cleveland (though as aforementioned, I’m on a constant quest). We do tend to forget about them though so part of me was happy that we found ourselves here.

When we walked in, there weren’t any other customers in sight. We asked for a high chair and to our surprise, they said they don’t have highchairs or boosters and really don’t see a lot of kids (this was the nice way of saying that they aren’t kid-friendly). I asked if they would mind if she sat on my lap and explained that they wouldn’t even know she was there. They agreed, but throughout the night, it was pretty clear that our server was less than thrilled with our tiny companion (and again – the restaurant remained empty except for one other table – that also had two kids, which of course made me chuckle).

Our pizza, as usual, was great (though the sauce wasn’t as good as previous visits – still enjoyable, just slightly off). Thin, crispy – they definitely make my kind of pizza. But truthfully, I’m not sure just how soon we’ll be back. I mean, they are known for their pizza. Pizza breeds families. Why wouldn’t you welcome this? I realize it’s not my restaurant and I’m sure they have valid reasons, but again, I can’t help but think that during a busy week for restaurants, we were the only table there for the better part of our meal (perhaps they all went to Melt?). Maybe others have been put off by this and also like to dine out as a family?

I’ve shared my thoughts numerous times on dining out with kids. And this was honestly the first time we have ever experienced this – not even at Lola, Fahrenheit, Parallax or L’Albatros, which you wouldn’t think would be kid-friendly but we’ve been warmly welcomed. Like I’ve said before, we make modifications: dine early, dine quick, and swiftly execute escape plan should Natalie decide to share her vocal talents with fellow diners. Whenever we dine in New York or Chicago, we always comment on the number of families out we see. From Avec, Graham Elliot to Babbo, little ones are out with their folks. And no one seems to care.

Like I said, we have never experienced this before or have ever been made to feel uneasy because our daughter was with us (at least by the restaurant). And I’m sure Marotta’s has their reasons. But truth be told, we like to dine out as a family (especially if pizza is involved) and we like to patronize and expose our daughter to all sorts of local eats. So while I highly recommend Marotta’s, especially for their fantastically good pizza, I just can’t see them in the near future for us.


  1. Jessica
    Posted December 30, 2010 at 8:55 pm | Permalink

    We made a first visit to Deagan’s in Lakewood by way of Melt yesterday – same thing: 2 hr wait. We had 5 children with our group including my 1 yr old twins so, no, that was not going to happen. We’d heard great things about Deagan’s and saw the sign up the next block. Loved it! We’re not over there a lot, but whenever we make an excursion to the West Side Market we try to eat lunch on the west side. Very kid friendly and great food that hits the spot if you were craving Melt.

    That’s good to know about Marotta’s…we’ve never tried it – have wanted to but with the twins and a four year old, kid-friendly is a must. And why not?

  2. Scott
    Posted December 31, 2010 at 8:15 am | Permalink

    Here is my viewpoint on kids in restaurants. Most families ruin it for others. I have seen tables decimated by kids. (food on floor, drinks spilled, etc) Family members don’t even care they think its part of the service to cleanup after there kids and babysit them while they eat a meal. Its disgusting.

    You are the minority in my opinion. Most families with kids to not have the same courtesy.

    My wife and I have actually left restaurants in the past when we see a family come into a restaurant depending on what stage of the dinner we are at.

  3. Myra
    Posted December 31, 2010 at 7:29 pm | Permalink

    What’s particularly interesting about your posting is the fact that Alisha & Brian Marotta recently celebrated the arrival of their fourth child. They are definitely not anti-kid! As for their pizza, it’s the closest to NY that Cleveland has to offer. Brian does a great job.

  4. Dave
    Posted January 2, 2011 at 3:37 pm | Permalink


    New baby is allergic to wheat, beans, soy and dairy. I would like to take wife out to dine but choices are limited because she is breastfeeding.

    What chefs/restaurants around Cleveland do you think may these bizarre food limitations?

  5. Posted January 3, 2011 at 10:45 am | Permalink

    I don’t have any kids, but I would feel the same way you do. Going out for pizza with my parents was my favorite night of the month as a kid.

  6. Posted January 3, 2011 at 11:31 am | Permalink

    @Dave I would suggest calling a few places, share this with them and see what they say. I bet you’ll find places willing to work with you. Maybe start with GHT. I have heard great things from people who have allergies about them. Good luck.

  7. michael
    Posted January 3, 2011 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

    i too like marottas pizza but have come to the conclusion that their price for a large pizza is insulting. i ordered a pizza puttanesca(sp?) style & they charged me $24! i usually just get pepperoni mushroom which was around $20.

    ive eaten in the dining room in the past & wasnt satisfied so i only ordered pizza to go from there on.

    hate to say it but i can drive(no delivery) to the pizza counter at whole foods for an amazing pizza in the same style for less.

  8. Scott H.
    Posted January 3, 2011 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

    We love Marotta’s but have never taken our kids there because I got the same vibe you did when we learned they had no high chairs. That’s always our rule of thumb.

    We once had an iffy experience with the kids at Bistro 185 even though they have a high chair. I love it there, and we got there early, but our server looked less than thrilled about serving a table with kids. By the end of the meal her attitude had thawed after she saw our kids were relatively well-behaved, but I was disappointed by the initial reaction.

    As for good places to go with kids, we’ve always had great experiences at Sarava. The people there are very welcoming, and they even have a kids menu. We reward them with our business because of it.

  9. Erica
    Posted January 3, 2011 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

    Michelle, My husband and I had the same experience with Marotta’s and our two year old son and I too was suprised at the no high reply, as we enjoy the food there, and the pizza in particular. We similarly make accomodations when we go out to eat with our son- we go early, keep the meal moving (we inform our server of this request) and pack it in/up if things go south. As a result of this experience, however, we now have second and third thoughts about visting Marotta’s again and instead opt for another great very kid friendly pizza spot on Lee Road- Dewey’s.

  10. Erica
    Posted January 3, 2011 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

    Edit: “at the no high {chair} reply” that is..

  11. pchak
    Posted January 4, 2011 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

    We got the same vibe from those folks a couple years back. We have friends (who you also know) who swear by this place for their NY-style pie. I thought the food was “okay” (the pie was pretty authentic), but pricey.

    We’ve been taking the twins out since they were two weeks old. While no kid is perfect, we’ve tried to be respectful of others perception of kids in restaurants (eating out weekdays, early evening ressies, etc.). We never expected high chairs anywhere we went, always taking our own boosters.

    When you’re welcomed into the best restaurants in town (Momocho, Lolita, GHT), I don’t need to spend my money in a place with reasonbaly prepared but over-priced food, served with an attitude.

  12. eyehrtfood
    Posted January 4, 2011 at 11:15 pm | Permalink

    Couldn’t agree more about the big city “kids are welcome” thing vs. sometimes not quite feeling that way in Cleveland. My now 14 year was a baby/toddler when we lived in Chicago where she was welcomed with open arms any and everywhere we went (and we, of course, knew where it wouldn’t have been right to take a small child..)… including places like Wolfgang Puck’s then-open Spago, where we still talk about our great family meals, often next to other families of cute little toddlers – and how wonderful and welcoming the place was (even occasionally from Wolfgang himself).

    That’s not to say that around here places were not often welcoming to a smaller kid – and are usually fully welcoming of a teen now – but your pizza experience struck a chord with me. Shame on them…

    Though it was in a different venue (a housing development that we looked at with our then toddler) – our favorite, roundabout “kids aren’t welcome here” comment was from a real estate agent who put it ever so diplomatically, “Oh, you have child… Children would be new to our community”… A line we still use in gest today…

  13. rockandroller
    Posted January 6, 2011 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

    I am late to this but @Dave, go to Treehugger’s Cafe in Berea! They are VERY friendly for kids and have a shelving unit with toys for them to play in, and they are VERY allergic-friendly. I ate there the whole time I was heavily BFing as my kid was dairy-allergic and they had tons of tasty things I could eat instead and “safe” foods.

  14. pchak
    Posted January 20, 2011 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

    @rockandroller-I don’t even expect any special accomodations, but that’s great that Treehuggers does that!

    @eyehrtfood-luckily, a lot of our “big city restaurants” are in step with this. This is certainly the case in most Bay-area restaurants. Well before we started our family, we were having thanksgiving dinner at a nice restaurant (plowing through a ton of vino as well ;-), and a fam w/an approx. 2 year old little girl was there. She was a bit fussy, but nothing that we thought was disturbing. They were apologetic, and we tried to point out that “kids are kids”. No one else cared, either. Ended up, the guy happened to be with Williams Selyem winery, and left 1/2 a bottle of their hard to find/buy pinot at our table!).