Parents and children have been flocking to Randy's Wooster Street Pizza for years, thanks to its whimsical kids' menu, game room and collection of Hot Wheels toy cars. Now the restaurant has been honored for its atmosphere and food, recently nominated by US Foods as one of the country's Top 10 Family Friendly Restaurants.
The 10 finalists were chosen by a panel of culinary experts and judged on their kids' menus, family friendliness and overall fun environment, said a representative for US Foods. Randy's is the only honoree from New England; other restaurants are in Arkansas, California, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, North Carolina and Virginia.
Staci Lawton, general manager of the Manchester location, said she was the one to enter the restaurant in US Foods' contest several months ago. "We have a pretty cool kids' menu: little cookie-sized pizzas with dough, sauce and cheese; fried mac and cheese, pasta in wheel shapes, stuff that you don’t see at other restaurants. I thought it'd be great," she said. "...This is awesome. It's such a surprise."
While Randy's prides itself on quality New Haven-style brick oven pizza, owner Randy Price always intended for his restaurant to cater to children and families, Lawton said. Kids get a free Hot Wheel toy with the purchase of every kids' meal. After they eat, they're invited to race their new cars on a 30-foot track in the eatery's game room, which also features several arcade games. On Thursdays, there's a weekly family fun night, with free face painting, puppets, balloons and other activities.
Randy's menu includes several offbeat pizzas that often catch kids' eyes, like the popular Skippy's Dare (a white pie with provolone, peanut butter and bacon) and the Reniculously Good, with Nutella, mozzarella and corn flakes. Fried dough formed into the shape of a happy face is another child favorite, with choice of powdered sugar, cinnamon or sauce for toppings, and young diners also love the fried pickles, Lawton said.
US Foods chefs will travel to the 10 nominated restaurants this week to experience them firsthand, a representative said. On Sept. 2, the top 5 winners will be announced. Each receives a $2,000 credit for kitchen equipment and supplies from US Foods Culinary Equipment & Supplies, a featured mention in in the winter issue of Food Fanatics magazine and a profile on the Food Fanatics website.
Randy's has been in the national spotlight before; in 2009, Adam Richman of Travel Channel's "Man v. Food" visited the Manchester pizzeria to take on its 10-pound Stuffed Pizza Challenge. "Kids try [the challenge] all the time," Lawton said. "We try to get older guests to do it; it's not really realistic for kids!"