Friday, March 7, 2014

Restaurant review: Willow Street Wood-Fired Pizza (San Jose/Willow Glen)

After Music and Movement this morning at the Willow Glen Branch Library, Toddler X and his buddies decided to grab lunch at Willow Street Wood-Fired Pizza (located on Willow Street near the corner of Lincoln Avenue in downtown Willow Glen). I grew up going to (and loving) the Los Gatos Willow Street location, but hadn't spent much time at the original in Willow Glen.

I'm guessing that when a restaurant sees three moms walk in with three toddlers and two strollers in tow, there is usually a communal sigh of dismay from the staff. But Willow Street had just the opposite reaction, with the staff springing into action to make us comfortable.

They sat us on the patio as we requested, and as one staff member moved tables around so we'd have enough space for high chairs and to stow our strollers, another grabbed the high chairs themselves (which were nice, clean plastic ones). They quickly brought the kids their kids' menus, with coloring options on both sides, and a big cup of crayons. Just as thoughtful, they brought glasses of water for the moms and, without asking, lidded straw cups of water for the kids. Very nice.

Our waiter was great -- a young guy who is waiting tables while he goes to school. When we expressed how impressed we were with his kid-savviness (he specifically asked us if the kids were okay with bread before he went to set it down), he explained that his mom ran a preschool, so he grew up around little kids -- you could tell that he "got" toddlers.

He was super-accommodating of our special orders (nothing with kids is ever easy), and the food was all great. Two of the kids just ate off the mom's order, and the other had mac and cheese from the kids' menu and loved it. (And by the way, the kids' menu is one of the most extensive I've seen -- usually there are just three or four choices, here there were 10+ options, plus a "toddler tray" for the under-3 set.)

One final touch that sealed the deal for me -- in the women's restroom, next to the diaper changing table, they have hooks to hang your purse and other gear. Nothing grosses me out more than trying to find a place for my bag while I change a diaper at many restrooms -- or having the hook be a mile away, so that you're in trouble if you forget to grab enough wipes or something. The fact that the hooks here were RIGHT next to the changing table tells me that a mom was definitely involved in the restroom design!

Oh, and did I mention that toddlers (actually, all kids) eat free on Tuesday nights?

Anyhow, for great service, tasty food and several toddler-friendly touches, I definitely give Willow Street two big pizza sauce-covered thumbs up. And if your toddler is a good little citizen during lunch or dinner, you can walk to the corner of Lincoln and Willow for some play time at the hugely toddler-popular fountain and a treat at Willow Glen Creamery. Yum!

Closest great playground: Willow/Frank Bramhall Park is an easy 1/2 mile down Willow Street from the restaurant. Here's a map to get you there.

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