When I was in Italy in April-May, I discovered a wonderful Italian tradition — Aperitivo.
Think of it as an Italian take on happy hour.
Like many Europeans, Italians tend to eat dinner late. Most restaurants don’t even open until 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. is a completely normal time to start dinner. Aperitivo fills the gap.
Here’s how it works. You go to a restaurant or bar offering aperitivo and, when you buy a drink (or two), you get snacks included! Sometimes they will bring some food to the table. More commonly, they will set out a buffet of heavy appetizers. You can help yourself. Since most folks will be having a proper dinner later, it’s not a time to pig out. Folks eat moderately, getting lovely tastes of wonderful food.
The standard drink at aperitivo is either a Negoroni or an Aperol spritz, though some folks will choose other cocktails or just have wine — especially prosecco — or beer. For non-drinkers, sparkling water, a juice spritzer, or a shrub is a great choice.
For snacks, pickled vegetables, olives, and cheese are pretty common. Crostini and bruschetta make frequent appearances, as do pizza and cured meats like salami or ham. Each restaurant has their own thing.
To honor my trip and to spend time with friends, last Sunday, I hosted an aperitivo with my beloved. We had the standard drinks, including a blood orange shrub that I am very excited about! The food menu included porchetta-inspired sliders, meatballs, cured meats and cheeses, orzo salad, home-canned giardineria and sweet and hot peppers, olives, and crostini and bruschetta.
Check my Twitter (@ChiefElfMary) for photos.