tradition of aperitivo – pre-dinner
drinks with complimentary snacks – is fast becoming a trend in London,
replacing the after work pint with something altogether more sophisticated.
over Italy but particularly in Milan, aperitivo takes places in bars and
restaurants between 6 and 9 pm on weekdays, when friends or colleagues gather
to unwind and socialise. Campari and Aperol
– two bitter liqueurs – form the base of many traditional Italian aperitivo
drinks, although everything from prosecco to cocktails are also available with
snacks such as canapés, pizza, cold cuts,
olives and cheese served at a communal table.
While aperitvo is not new
to the English capital, in recent years some exciting restaurants have
introduced it to their menus, hoping to make the time-honoured European
tradition a mainstream London scene.
Pizza East Portobello, Notting Hill’s posh pizzeria by the Soho House restaurant group, offers a
casual aperitivo from Monday to Wednesday between 5 and 7 pm. Anyone
who buys a drink can help themselves to a buffet of antipasti, where the daily
changing selection includes such delicacies as beef carpaccio, pear crostini, pizzette (mini pizzas), grilled sardines,
cheese and Italian cured meats – all of which will whet your appetite for
British chef Theo Randall offers
an authentic aperitivo
menu at his namesake restaurant at the
Intercontinental Hotel on Park Lane. You’ll find classic Italian drinks such as
Campari mixed with soda or white wine, but instead of a communal table of
antipasti, drinkers are given a complimentary pre-plated selection of Italian
meats, cheeses and juicy green olives.
Banca, an upmarket Italian
restaurant in Mayfair, is one of the most recent places to join the trend.
Every Tuesday to Friday from 5 to 7:30 pm, the chef prepares small plates of
pickled button onions in raspberry vinegar, salted cod fritters, pizzette with
anchovies and tomato and more, which are placed on the long bar for drinkers to
Practical as well as
enjoyable, aperitivo helps Londoners abide by the golden rule: never drink on
an empty stomach. Let’s hope it is a
trend that catches on.
Malika Dalamal is the London Localite for BBC