Coletta’s Restaurant #1
1063 S. Parkway East
I work downtown and could smell the BBQ smoking on the river last week, but I just couldn't convince myself to take the monkeys (Satchel, 7, and Jiro, 5) to BBQ Fest. But, when I got a hankering for some BBQ pizza (after reading an article on Memphis' BBQ originals in Friday's Commercial Appeal), I knew exactly where to go--Coletta's. I just had to convince Warren, the monkeys, and our friend Vanessa and her two monkeys to come with me.
It actually wasn't a hard sell.
First, Warren and I took three of the four monkeys to Overton Park to get their ya-yas out while Vanessa drove the remaining monkey, who is just 7 months old, around the block so she could get her nap on. Once the ya-yas were out and the nap was on, we split up again and headed south.
Vanessa, the 7 month old monkey, and I (the girls) were the first to arrive. It was 6:30 on a Saturday night and the parking lot was packed with cars. "Uh-oh," we said in unison. I decided to go in and make sure that we could get a table for seven. Inside there were plenty of empty tables, so I went back to the car and gave Vanessa the thumbs up.
The three of us stood around the foyer for a bit waiting for a hostess to seat us, but eventually a few guys from the kitchen explained that we could just seat ourselves. So we set about looking for two tables to push together, then we spotted a huge 8-top in what must be the "Elvis room." (He was a big BBQ pizza fan.) Vanessa started adjusting the lighting (it was a bit dark) and I went in search of a high chair. At this point an employee took some interest in us and wheeled out a nice high chair for us to use.
However, we planned to turn the highchair upside down and place the car seat in it, so I had to refuse the nice woman's gesture. I had noticed some regular high chairs in another part of the restaurant, next to a well-lit 8-top, so we relocated before Warren and the boys showed up.
There were several tables of people eating--many with children--but not nearly as many as the parking lot let on. (I can only guess that employees park in the same lot?) Since we knew we wanted pizza, Vanessa and I decided to go ahead and order to reduce the wait time. (We were concerned about the older monkeys' ability to stay calm in each other's presence.)
There wasn't an actual kids' menu, but it was a "pizza" place, so it wasn't really necessary. We ordered a small cheese pizza for the kids as well as an antipasto platter (with olives, salami, cheese, and peppers) to sate them upon arrival. Then we ordered a large, family sized BBQ pizza for the adults and three Italian salads. I almost ordered more food, but decided to let Warren make the call when he arrived.
The boys showed up just as we put our order in. We directed them to sit down and I passed out pens for them to draw on the back of their menus. This was amazingly successful. And, much to our delight, the appetizers came just a few minutes later. As soon as Miles saw the antipasto plate he exclaimed, "There it is! I've been smelling cheese since I got here."
We definitely had some loud moments, a water spill, and general squirminess, but for the most part we did not draw attention ourselves. As the evening progressed, more and more people came in and it was loud enough that no one paid much attention to what was going on beyond their table.
It took probably 20-30 minutes for the pizzas to arrive, which is to be expected when they are making them to order. It was definitely worth the wait, though. The boys were very pleased with the cheese pizza, and the adults were blown away by the size of the BBQ pizza. The family size said 3-6 people. Because they really pack on the BBQ, it is hard to eat more than one or two pieces. It could easily feed six, and is probably a bit much for just three.
Satchel was curious about the BBQ pizza, but didn't want to try any. Miles did and seemed to enjoy it. It was tangy and not at all spicy, so it's perfectly fine for adventurous kids. (Satchel eventually ate a piece of the leftovers and loved it.)
The busy-ness of the evening crowd caused our server to be a bit M.I.A. but not so much so that it was a problem. By the end of the meal there was a kitchen guy subbing for our waitress. Our total bill was $49, but we had half of each pizza left over to take home. Had we ordered a little smarter, we could have probably gotten out of there for a bit less.
And yes, we'll be back!
Ambiance: very old-school, authentic. Conducive to loud and squirmy.
Service: okay. They tend to think people have been there before and know the routine. Plan to be patient if ordering pizza, especially on a busy night.
Kid-friendliness: good. Lots of families there, kid-friendly food. No special amenities beyond high chairs. (Bathroom has a counter that could double as a diaper changing area as long as the baby isn't too mobile.)
Eco-friendliness: unsure (No styrofoam that I saw--all dinnerware was reusable and pizza boxes were cardboard.)