No matter how much the kids beg, no grandparent should ever have to set foot in Chuck E. Cheese. For something as wacky but more edible try any of the Buca di Beppo’s in the Bay Area. This is hearty, red sauce Italian but pleasantly weird. Ask for the Pope’s Table with its centerpiece of a revolving clear plastic box with a plaster bust of the pontiff inside. Every inch of the restaurant is plastered with Italian kitsch – Connie Francis, Frank Sinatra, Sophia Loren – it’s a feverish Tony Soprano fantasy. Perry Como sounds as mellow as ever.

The menu is big, over 50 family-size dishes of Italian Cooking’s Greatest Hits – fried mozzarella, a dozen pizzas, manicotti, chocolate chip cannoli. It ‘s pricey (entrees $17-$25) but kid’s meals are just $5.96.

By the way the name, roughly translated, is “Joe’s Cellar”. Lunch and dinner.

bucca de peppo

San Francisco

855 Howard

415.543.7673

Palo Alto

643 Emerson

650.329.0665

San Jose

Oakridge Mall

408-226-1414

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