The Perks:

Now that we've got a rambunctious two year old boy, our Friday nights out aren't quite what they used to be. No more dressing up. No more cocktails at the trendy bar in the city. And certainly no more gourmet five course dinners by candlelight.

These days, it's all about going out in jeans or sweats for good food that is fast, affordable, and most of all KID FRIENDLY!

Family Fun Night at Romanelli's in Madison is a great pick for a casual Friday night out with the kids. My husband, son and I tried it out this Friday and we'll be back.

The restaurant is super casual -- you seat yourself and order at the counter. They do a lot of catering, take-out, and parties in their private party room. The pizza was yummy and my son whole-heartedly approved of his side of meatballs. The food was served quickly -- a big plus with an impatient little guy.

Best of all, on Friday nights from 6-8:00 p.m., the very good-natured Simon Mandal*, "NJ's Favorite Comedy Magician", will visit your table and entertain your kiddies by making them the balloon creation of their choice.

We got to talking with Simon and found out that not only is he a talented balloon artist, but also an all-around good guy. This past Halloween he helped construct a 10 room, 10,000 square foot walk-through Haunted House made out of 100,000 balloons to raise money for Teens Living with Cancer. (Check out www.balloonmanor.com for details on next year's house!!) Besides working at Romanelli's on Friday nights and Tiffany's in Union on Tuesday nights, he also does parties.

Apparently, he also has an hilarious 45-minute act with some pretty awesome magic tricks. This may be something to look into for a future birthday party for my son...For now, we'll take advantage of a fast, easy, and entertaining choice for our new and improved Friday night out!

The Poops:

Getting a good parking spot could be a challenge on a Friday night. We were lucky to find street parking right in front of the restaurant, but this meant parallel parking --which for me is a major poop!

* You can contact Simon at Simon@TheSimonShow.com or 732-492-6071.

Romanelli's Italian Eatery is located at 42 Lincoln Place in Madison, NJ 07940.  Their phone number is 973-377-9515 and their website is www.romanellis.com