Where to go for the best ‘aperitivo’ in Rome
Most people are familiar with the American ‘happy hour’ concept. However, Italians have what some might class as a better version; the aperitivo or as we know it, the aperitif. A charming tradition often enjoyed after a hard day’s work or a drink to savor pre-dinner. It is an Italian tradition that is generally found in most Italian cities, an absolute Italian essential.
The construct of a drink and a light snack aims to whet your appetite before a mouth-watering Italian meal. The word itself comes from the Latin word for “opener”, suggesting its function of opening for the main course. One of the oldest and most rooted aperitif’s is vermouth. When Antonio Benedetto Carpano created the first vermouth in Turin, it became a substitute for red wine and a classic amongst aperitif drinks. However, in Rome at the moment, the most popular aperitif is Aperol Spritz. This Roman favorite is created by combining Aperol, soda, and Prosecco. Even though the aperitif can be found throughout Italy, it does not necessarily mean that it tastes the same everywhere you go. As with all other Italian food, the aperitif changes from city to city and from region to region.
Wherever you are in Italy, the most common time to enjoy an aperitif is generally between 7pm and 9pm. This is when you can leave any thoughts of work behind and unwind with a light drink of your choice accompanied by some finger food, chips or snacks. Experiencing Italian cities by visiting an aperitif bar can be incredibly useful. It provides an excellent opportunity to sip on an aperitif whilst watching both the locals and tourists enjoying a leisurely stroll (otherwise known to the Italians as a ‘passeggiata’).
Traditionally an aperitif is not intended as a substitute for dinner; however, as there are many delicious options alongside the great drink, many young Italians as well as tourists opt for an aperitif and skip dinner. Usually, aperitif bars charge a fixed price for each drink. One drink means, one plate of food, snack or whatever they are offering. Usually, the price is fixed around 8€ -10€, regardless of the drink you order. Once you have ordered your drink and paid for it, feel free to help yourself from the buffet.
Some Roman Favorites for an Aperitif
Freni e Frizioni
Via del Politeama, 4-6 (Trastevere)
Aperitif: price of a drink
Just off the busy Piazza Trilussa, Freni e Frizioni is an all-time favorite. The buffet has a wide range of offers, from Italian classics to exotic and vegetarian options. The cocktails alongside the food are unique to Freni e Frizioni. It is a great spot to meet new people, enjoy Rome or just people-watch.
Hotel Locarno Lounge Bar
Via della Penna, 22 (Popolo)
Aperitif: €8-15 depending on the drink
If you want to enjoy an aperitif alongside dark oak and elegant vintage details, this Gatsbyesque scene is what you’re looking for. The bar located inside Hotel Locarno offers drinks and cooked finger foods, ensuring fresh ingredients, genuine flavors, and delicious food combinations, are all served in a luxurious environment. If you are in Rome during the warm summer months you can even sit outside and enjoy your drink.
Piazza di Pietra, 42 (Pantheon)
If a sophisticated cocktail accompanied by an amazing aperitif buffet in one of Europe’s best bars is what you are looking for, then take a seat in Salotto42. From 7pm-10pm the buffet has a wide selection of organic and vegetarian food choices. The bar is known for its sublime cocktails that are at a fixed price of 10€. A favorite among regulars is the Cuban Manhattan that uses rum instead of the classic whiskey.
Via Flaminia, 226 (Flaminio)
Aperitif: price of drink
The Tree Bar is a unique restaurant in Rome with a leafy green vista surrounding it. This marvelous setting is the best location for a long lunch, an intimate dinner or a late night tapas craving. The Tree Bar prides itself on making fresh bread, its wood-oven pizza, and even the artisanal beer it serves, from its very own agricultural agency: Treefarm. The Tree Bar is the perfect fit for a summer aperitif. If you happen to be around on a Monday, don’t miss their We Like Monday Aperitivo where they play modern jazz, electro-soul and Brazilian moods to entertain your ears.
Gusto al 28
Piazza Augusto Imperatore, 28 (Via del Corso)
Aperitif: € 10
Gusto al 28 is a trendy culinary emporium near Piazza del Popolo, a smart option for anyone who finds themselves in the city center looking to avoid tourist bars. The aperitif is excellent, arguably one of the best in town: pasta, lasagna, pizza, hot dogs and fried snacks galore can all to be enjoyed with a tasty drink from the extensive cocktail and wine list.
Piazza Giuditta Tavani Arquati, 114 (Trastevere)
Aperitif: € 7
A charming wine bar, nostalgic for Paris and the lost generation, VinAllegro is the perfect place for a date in Trastevere. Candlelit and framed by bottles of red, select a table to let the waiting staff know what type of wine you would like. The staff are extremely knowledgeable and will surely select something that will meet your tastes. The bar is lined with celebratory plates piled high with pizza bianca, panini, savory pastries and other snacks to enjoy.
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