Wednesday, 13 May 2009

The Italian Aperitivo

If you think “Happy Hour” is great, you’ll love the Italian “Aperitivo”. Happy Hour is a time, normally in the afternoon or early evening, when drinks are available at a discounted rate. An Aperitivo is an alcoholic drink accompanied by appetizers and served before dinner to stimulate the appetite. Generally speaking, an aperitivo is offered by bars between the hours of 7 and 9 pm, but some bars provide them at lunch time or in late afternoon.

Drinks are offered at full price but the food is free and ranges from simple snacks such as potato chips, nuts and olives to an elaborate, buffet-style spread with salads, pastas, cheeses, cold cuts and pizza. The average price for an aperitivo is 7 euros; however, some bars and lounges offering more elaborate aperitivi charge up to 15 euros.

The classic aperitivo drink, preferred by many Italians, is a Campari or Aperol cocktail or a prosecco. Be forewarned: any rum or vodka based drink, such as rum and cokes, mojitos or capiroskas are made very strong. I once ordered a rum and coke and I literally got a half-pint sized glass of ice and rum with a small bottle of coke on the side.

The classic aperitivo was originally inteded to stimulate the appetite but as they have become more popular and the food more elaborate, many people, including myself, think of it as a meal replacement and a chance to relax and socialize.

The best aperitivi (plural of aperitivo in Italian) in terms of the quantity and quality of food are in Milano but some of my best aperitivi were in Sardegna and Rome.

Two great places in Rome to go for an aperitivo are the ‘Gusto Wine Bar and
Primo Cafe.

'Gusto - Wine Bar
Via della Frezza, 23 00186 Roma
tel. +39

Primo Cafe
Via Dei Baullari, 147, Roma (RM)
Tel:+39 06