The first thing 5-year-old Sydney Feldman did after walking into Peek-a-Boo Café was go down the slide. Then she crawled though a rainbow-colored, plastic caterpillar tunnel. And then she rode what she called the "roller coaster," a one-person car that slides on a plastic ramp at a whopping speed of about 3 mph. That happened to be her favorite part of the playground.
"It’s fast," said Sydney, who lives in Surfside.
IF YOU GOPeek-a-Boo Cafe is at 18821 NE 29th Ave. in Aventura. Open daily 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Admission is free for babies under 6 months old; $8 for toddlers 6-18 months; $10 for kids 18 months and up. Call 305-974-0189 or visit peekaboo-cafe.com.
The family-operated Peek-a-Boo Café opened in Aventura in December. It provides an indoor playground for children and imported European food and wine for parents. The Mariotti family, who are the founders and owners, wanted to create a venue where parents could keep an eye on their children while enjoying things like a glass of French Chateau Portal Minervois or imported Scottish salmon in a hamburger.
"I said, 'Let’s do a place where the mom can have coffee and relax and at the same time watch the kids,' " said Dayana Mariotti, who came up with the idea for the café and now co-owns it with her husband, Aldo Mariotti.
Peek-a-Boo joins a growing number of such cafes around the country and in South Florida.
Early in 2011, Cool-de-Sac, a full-service restaurant and children’s entertainment center in South Miami, opened a location at Dolphin Mall. The owners also have a in Mexico. It is looking to expand into Aventura, Broward County and to Bogotá, Colombia. There's also Cafe Bambini in North Miami Beach, A Latte Fun in Coral Springs, and FunderDome in Fort Lauderdale.
The Mariottis chose Aventura because its demographics fit its target market. There's "a nice dispensable income here," said Aldo Mariotti.
He and his wife hope to turn Peek-a-Boo Café into a chain and expand to Key Biscayne, Coral Gables, Miami Beach and Midtown.
Bright colors dominate the decor, with a mural blanketing one wall. Lime-green and orange chairs arranged around white tables provide seating at the dining area, and the playground has soft orange padding and includes a purple slide, a red-and-green ship, and a yellow house with a red roof.
The playground is divided into three areas: an arts-and-crafts station for children about 5 years old and older; a soft-toy area for toddlers; and the largest area, with the playground equipment, is for children 1 to 5 years old. The opportunity to entertain children of different ages at Peek-a-Boo Café appeals to moms.
"I have three children," said Jaime Cleary, 36, of Aventura, mother of Dylan, 4, Fallyn, 1, and Ryan, 5. "It’s one place to take all three."
The furniture — which includes more than 20 tables and a high-top seating area — is light and has rounded corners to avoid injuries. The tables and playground are all covered with paint that does not emit toxic smells and is made to repel bacteria, said Aldo Mariotti.
The menu’s emphasis on European food is evident in sections such as the pâtisserie, where French croissants and Argentine alfajores are offered. The deli offers sandwiches and wraps made with Italian tuna and prosciutto, and French Camembert and Brie cheese.
For kids: Macaroni and cheese, chicken fingers, fish sticks, and grilled-cheese sandwiches. All are prepared in an oven. No fried food or saturated fats.