The Italian concept of aperitivo, very much a part of Rome’s culture, is the time to relax before a delicious dinner and enjoy a sophisticated drink with a few simple dishes to pique the appetite.
Campari and soda, an Aperol spritz or a chilled glass of Prosecco are among the most popular Italian aperitivi but there is more to it than bar snacks and alcohol; the aperitivo hour is a time to wind down, chat, and see and be seen. Most establishments will offer a selection of light refreshments, usually complimentary, and likely to range from olives and nuts to bruschetta, tramezzini (sandwiches), pasta, salads, or even small portions of pizza – bear in mind that Italian dinner is often served quite late in the evening, though don’t be tempted to eat too much. Aperitivo hours will vary from bar to bar, but are likely to start around 6pm and finish by 9pm. The right atmosphere can make or break your aperitivo, so be sure to choose a spot with great service and a memorable setting.
Located in ultra-cool Pigneto, Necci is a distinctive gem in a district filled with bars and restaurants. Film buffs might recognise the location from Pier Paolo Pasolini’s film Accattone, which was shot here in 1961. This welcoming joint boasts a garden terrace, an extensive drinks menu and homemade food served all day. Whether you’re dropping in for breakfast or settling in for the evening with a glass of wine, be sure to visit the gift store for cool souvenirs.
Necci, Via Fanfulla da Lodi 68, 00176 Rome, +39 06 9760 1552
Freni e Frizioni
A name that translates into English as ‘brake and clutch’ is a clue that Freni e Frizioni is located in a former garage. This café-bar draws a young, artistic crowd who are here to enjoy the great food and even better drinks. From 7pm to 10pm, an enticing buffet is served on a long, candlelit table. Frene e Frizioni’s riverside location in the Trastevere neighbourhood also makes it a must-visit destination.
Freni e Frizioni, Via del Politeama 4-6, 00153 Rome, +39 06 4549 7499
A stone’s throw from Piazza Navona, this restaurant-cum-café-cum-bar is renowned for its relaxed atmosphere. After a hard day’s sightseeing, curl up on one of its many leather couches with a book and a Negroni in hand. Like many of Rome’s best bars, this establishment caters to the brunch crowd, the after-work crowd, and everything in between; in short, it is a great place to experience la dolce vita.
Etablì, Vicolo delle Vacche 9, 00186 Rome, +39 06 9761 6694
Open Baladin Roma
Those who prefer beer to wine will find that Open Baladin Roma is the neighbourhood pub they’ve always wanted. This watering hole, which opened in 2009, serves over 100 bottled beers, 40 Italian draught beers, and an ever-changing daily menu. The bar’s name was chosen to communicate the spirit of openness that pervades every aspect of the business, from the opening of the beer to the transparency of the staff’s preparations to the warm welcome you’ll receive at the open door.
Open Baladin Roma, Via degli Specchi 6, 00186 Rome, +39 06 683 8989