Every evening in little bars all over northern Italy, you’ll find friends and family gathering over the wonderful ritual of ‘aperitivo’. This laidback tradition sees people enjoying each other’s company over a light drink paired with a small savoury bite in the lead up to dinner.

Derived from a Latin phrase meaning “to open”, the aperitivo is intended to prepare your palate and whet your appetite before a meal. Australians have wholeheartedly embraced the Italian ritual of aperitivo, Italian ex-pat and Maybe Sammy bar owner Stefano Catino explains why.

“This drink matches perfectly with the Australian drinking culture, he says. “A casual occasion with friends, a sundowner, a post-work happy hour, I mean, we are already celebrating all of these”. Listen to Catino’s take on aperitivo culture here.

Aperol Spritz, the quintessential aperitivo, has a refreshing, bittersweet taste that pairs beautifully with a range of delicious snacks. Some Italian favourites include:

Crostini – little slices of crispy bread topped with anything from cured meats to soft cheeses or seasonal vegetables.

Polpette – delicious miniature meatballs served on their own, often with a toothpick for simple snacking.

Arancini – little balls of risotto, sometimes filled with meat or vegetables, rolled in breadcrumbs and fried.

Charcuterie – a selection of tasty morsels including olives, hard and soft cheeses, cured meats, nuts and ciabatta.

Catino encourages Aussie venues to put their own spin on food pairing. “Be fun, be creative, and bend the rules,” he says. “Get out of your comfort zone, it doesn’t have to be Italian, we are in Australia!”

Some of our favourite apertivo pairings include:

  • Bar Mammoni, Sydney – Aperol Spritz with Roast Pumpkin, Stracciatella and Hazelnut
  • Fable, Melbourne – Aperol Spritz with Coffin Bay Oysters 
  • LOS Bar, Brisbane – Aperol Spritz with Chicken Bao Bun

Check out Stefano Catino’s simple food pairing tips to create the perfect aperitivo experience at your venue. 

Do you make a mean Aperol Spritz? If so, you could be in the running to win a trip to Venice, Italy – the home of Aperol! Simply film yourself creating the perfect serve and post to Instagram for your chance to win.

See www.aperolspritz.com.au/spritzmetovenice/ for more details.