The weather’s warmer, the sun’s out longer, everyone’s asking about holiday plans and the countdown to the end of the year has begun. Oh, and importantly, aperitivo season is upon us.
An Italian phrase for the drink slash snack you have to ready your palate for dinner in the sparkly lingering moments of sunshine from about 5pm—aperitivo is arguably the perfect summer sport—at least, it’s a sport when we do it—and one of our fav excuses to get out and about.
Here are a few of our favourite spots to soak up the afternoon, Italian-style.
The Dolphin has a special place in our hearts for offering not one, but two hours of aperitivo between Sunday and Thursday. Not only do they know we like to spoil our dinner on the reg, but The Dolphin’s aperitivo offering is unique and fresh. Served between 5pm and 7pm - and for $5 to $7 - ‘Delfino Aperitivo’ features a rotating menu where the food may change but the quality never does.
Fancier fares include appellation oysters and po'boys (a traditional sandwich from Louisiana), as well as Japanese-themed aperitivo and classic Italian snackage—it all depends on the week. Check out their website to plan ahead.
Cards on the table, Matteo Downtown’s aperitivo hour might be extended soon—possibly from our own crying and begging alone. We love it that bloody much.
You see, between the hours of 4pm – 6pm, Monday to Friday, every drink ordered from Matteo comes with complimentary snacks (aka our love language). Sent out on roaming trays, the selection includes only the finest of the day so you can leave your dreams of bar nuts at home. We’re talking pizzetta, octopus, porchetta focaccia, fresh oysters, crudité, and ye olde antipasto.
There’s no reason not to set yourself up at the bar and sip away at a signature spritz cocktail ($15) between helpings of Negroni or heck, a local beer for just $7. Did we mention you can grab some pretty tip-top wines on tap for $7 too? Seriously, this place has it all.
Balcon by Tapavino
We’re going a little rogue here with a Spanish-based option for an inherently Italian concept, but stick with us. The mash-up is more than worth it.
They’re known for having one of the more impressive wine displays (we’re talking 5,000 plus) in the CBD, but Balcon by Tapavino is much more than a wine-happy, after work hangout. Between 3pm and 5pm, this Spanish spot put on their own version of aperitivo with oysters, pate, jamon and cheese in a somewhat intimate, 30-seat setting. Get yourself down there for a 3pm snack siesta. You won’t regret it.
Osteria di Russo & Russo
Aperitivo at Russo & Russo is a favourite of those who want to live the high life on a penny-pinching budget. Like getting your cake (rent) and eating it too (super delicious food), Russo & Russo’s offering includes top-notch fried zucchini flowers and oysters shucked to order. All at an aperitivo price.
Better yet, with a strong emphasis on share plates, we can practically guarantee you won’t get any stink-eye for pinching off your pal’s plate. Winning.
Just when you thought things couldn’t get much better than a pizza/pasta combo, our mates at Casoni have gone and kicked it to next level with cacio e pepe doughnuts.
Technically known as ‘doughnuts’, but identified by locals as “more please”, these savoury bad boys are the crowning glory of aperitivo everywhere. Crafted with Percorino Romano, pepper, and pasta, cacio e pepe doughnuts are the epitome of moreish and just $8.
We pair our six or so servings with Aperol Spritz ($9) and on-tap beer ($7). Aperitivo hours are 5pm – 6:30pm so see you there.
10 William St
It’s a simple fact of life that the longer the wine list, the greater the establishment. And while we heard a rumour 10 William St spread this particular piece of gospel, we have to admit, their three-pager is nothing to scoff at.
But we digress, before indulging in said wine, pop into 10 William for an aperitivo serving of negroni, caper focaccia and marinated olives. Then stick around for dins and vino. It’s what the Italians do after all.
They might be the new kids on the block but Underground Social (the brand new Waterloo outpost of Underground Espresso) run a pretty damn great aperitivo hour. And by that, we mean seven whole hours worth of chowing down in the sun.
Running from 12pm to 7pm, Wednesday to Saturday, this Waterloo-based cafe offers the full gamut of cured meats and classic nibbles like marinated olives and bread for their aperitivo (yes, vegan options are available too). The best part? These folks run their food boards by the full or half metre. Pair it all up with an Aperol Spritz or Basil Mojito, in a sunny European-style courtyard.
If you’re on the hunt for a more relaxed (read: long) afternoon aperitivo, look no further than Underground Social.
Bacco Osteria e Espresso
Rocked by chef Scott Williams (formerly of Movida) and executive chef Andrew Cibej (Vini, Berta), Bacco Osteria e Espresso serve up a damn fine aperitivo. Their menu rotates seasonally but we can assure you it’s always good stuff. And that’s not just because every Wednesday, Thursday and Friday—between 4pm – 9pm—aperitivo drinks come with complimentary snacks. Although it does go a long way.
Chosen at the chef’s discretion, these nibbles include the likes of sardines, meatballs, jaffles, cabanossi and arancini, all of which go well with an Apereol Spritz or Americano Cocchi.
The guys at Bacco know their stuff and this is, therefore, one of our favourites for a classic ‘Italian Happy Hour’.
Maybe Frank can soothe that sore point between lunch and dinner like nobody’s business. In fact, they’re so damn good at aperitivo—specifically, their caprioska—we’ve found ourselves there long after the 7pm bell has rung.
Maybe Frank spruik a rotating range of Italian cocktails for a tenner. Think spritzes and negroni-like concoctions, plus street food stuzzichini available on the cheap. If you’re looking to let your aperitivo hour lean into full-on chow, Maybe Frank also has a dangerously good pizza deal on Tuesdays: just $20 for any of their 20 pies.
P.S. They’ve got a Bondi Beach pop-up open right now make your summer evenings all the finer. Just wait an hour to swim after that snack attack.
Vibing Italian? These are a few of our must-tries in Sydney.
Image credit: Bob Barrett.