Hats off to whoever thought to combine these things: balls of pizza dough, happy hour drinks and appetizers, and a band that inspires spontaneous eruptions of ring-around-the-rosie on the dance floor.
This small stroke of genius informs the happy hour offerings at Tutta Bella's Wallingford location on Sunday nights, where parents can savor reasonably-priced food and drinks while a swinging band transforms their kids into excitable little atoms of joy.
The band usually starts playing at 5:30 p.m., but it's smart to arrive a half-hour early to beat the crowds, take advantage of the lower prices, and get kids settled and eating. If your kids are old enough, ask for balls of pizza dough to keep them busy at the table (in addition to colored waxy sticks that they can twist into flowers or piles of snakes.)
Happy hour prices last until 6 p.m. For $6, you can get a child-sized Neapolitan pizzetta, and the $5 appetizers include roasted beets with goat cheese and pistachios, prosciutto with arugula and fennel and a selection of cured meats and fresh mozzarella cheese.
Be forewarned: your kids may lose all interest in dinner once the music starts. Check the calendar to catch an evening hosted by Casey MacGill's Blue 4 Trio, whose acoustic instruments – piano, single drum, upright bass, ukulele and trumpet – and boogie-woogie style are perfect for entertaining kids. Dressed in suits that look like they came from the five-and-dime era, the band specializes in seriously swinging beats and sweet harmonies – combining the effortlessness of Fred Astaire with the storytelling ability of Cab Calloway.
(And if you don't want an alarmed musician waving a bow or whisker drum brush near your children, make sure they keep a respectful distance from the microphone stands and instruments.)
On the dance floor, toddlers invent spontaneous interpretive dances that involve writhing on the floor and entertaining games of push-me-pull-you as partners try to lead or reclaim their hands. The default move is simply bouncing. Over and over.
And whether you're jitterbugging on the dance floor with a two-year-old – or are lucky enough to enjoy a drink and conversation from a safe distance – there's something in it for you, too.
IF YOU GO
What: Tutta Bella Sunday Night Happy Hour and Music.
Where: 4411 Stone Way N., Seattle.
When: Sunday nights, happy hour from 3 to 6 p.m., music from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m.
Contact: 206-633-3800; www.tuttabella.com.
Extra: Tutta Bella’s Columbia City location also offers music on Sunday nights, but usually starts an hour later, from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m.
Jennifer Langston is a Seattle-based writer and mom.