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The 7 Best Aperitif Bars in Rome

Wednesday, August 20th, 2008

The Milanesi can certainly take credit for bringing ‘l’aperitivo’ to Italy, but you definitely have to hand it to the Romans for transforming happy hour time into something trendy. Aperitivo or the aperitif as most Anglo-Saxons know it, is an alcoholic beverage taken before dinner. But in Italy, it’s much more than that. It’s concept is similar to that of happy hour but without the two-for-one drink specials. L’aperitivo is a time to meet up with friends and colleagues over drinks after work. One can grab an aperitivo for about €6-10 between 7-9pm .

In Rome, Sunday is the most popular day and also the most expensive. Most places include an all you can eat appetizer buffet featuring finger foods, sandwiches and cold pastas for the price of a drink. Food selection varies on the place you go to.

Some aperitivo places that rank high on the hot spot list around Rome are:

  • Crudo

A place to see and be seen. The lounge has a Miami Beach feel to it with its poshy couches and video projections on the wall. Buffet features sandwiches, cold pastas and finger foods.

Crudo – Via degli Specchi, 6 (Centro Storico) – Tel. 06/6838989

  • Société Lutece

This bar tucked away in a tiny piazza near Piazza Navona draws in a mixture of young bohemians and suit-and-tie types. Though space is tight inside, most people opt for the standing only section in the piazza. Buffet features mixed vegetables, couscous and finger foods.

Société Lutèce – Piazza Monte Vecchio, 17 (Centro Storico) – Tel. 06/6830

  • Salotto 42

A tiny but worth while lounge to visit just a few blocks away from the Pantheon. Limited seating, but if you manage to grab a spot inside you may also get to do some celebrity-spotting. Buffet features mixed vegetables, sandwiches and sometimes even sushi.

Salotto 42 – Piazza di Pietra, 42 (Centro Storico) – Tel. 06/6785804

  • Café Friends

When in doubt, you can always count on Friends. This café in the heart of Trastevere is always a sure bet. Open everyday with a lively young crowd. Buffet features cold pastas, mixed vegetables and finger foods.

Friends – Piazza Trilussa, 34 (Trastevere) – Tel. 06/5816111

  • Freni e Frizioni

This old mechanic shop (hence, the name—Shocks and Brakes) turned bar attracts a young bohemian crowd (both Italian and not). When space fills up inside, the crowd spills out into the tiny piazza and onto the staircase facing the street . Buffet features mixed vegetables, sandwiches, couscous and cold pastas.

Freni e Frizioni – Via del Politeama, 4-6 (Trastevere) – Tel. 06/58334210

  • Bar Gelateria Pompi

Known as the ‘King of Tiramisu’ in Rome, this popular bar/gelateria stays busy into the wee-hours of the morning. They also serve up a generous aperitivo buffet that includes pasta, sandwiches and finger foods.

Pompi – Via Albalonga, 7b – 9 – 11 (San Giovanni) – Tel. 06/7000418

  • Momart Café

Just a stone’s throw away from Rome’s La Sapienza University, this very modern café/restaurant is always filled with university students and working professionals. Both outdoor and indoor seating is available. Buffet consists of mainly pizza but also includes pastas, cold cuts and finger foods.

Momart – Viale XXI Aprile, 19 (Piazza Bologna) – Tel. 06/86391656

View of Rome from Campidoglio Hill originally posted by Geomangio

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About the author

Venere Travel Blog writer nicole arriaga

After working in Miami as writer and TV producer, Nicole Arriaga decided to trade in the sun and sand for the 'dolce vita' in 2003 and move to Rome. She writes for various publications including The American, and works for a study abroad organization in Rome.

17 responses to “The 7 Best Aperitif Bars in Rome”

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  1. Susan says:
    August 21st, 2008 at 10:05

    In the Piazza Bologna area close to Momart, there is another place that is much less crowded with better food and wine. The Enoteca Uva e Forme is in Via Padova.

  2. Marion says:
    August 21st, 2008 at 10:38

    Hi Nicole, you didn’t mention Fluid on Via del Governo Vecchio (near Piazza Navona). This is my favorite aperitivo bar in Rome. They make yummy cocktails and the food at the buffet is copious. I also like Société Lutèce for its “trendy bohemian” atmosphere, but I try to avoid their cocktails ’cause they aren’t good. Instead of a cocktail, I generally have a Pastis or a Panaché, which are also cheaper. :-)

  3. Jessica says:
    August 21st, 2008 at 15:23

    I second the motion for Uva e Forme, which is really nice and has a good selection of wine. Freni e Frizioni is a classic and the mojitos are fantastic, though it can get a little crazy with long lines because it’s so popular. Obika in Piazza Firenze, near the via del Corso, also has a pretty nice selection for their aperitivo, especially with all the different types of mozzarella, which is their specialty.

  4. Robert says:
    August 21st, 2008 at 22:13

    When in Rome, I absolutely loved Momart! It was a hip and trendy aperitivo bar full with a variety of different people. Definitely suited for anyone who is looking to have a delicious mojito, people watch, and listen to great music!! Must try!

  5. Meghan says:
    August 21st, 2008 at 22:18

    Question Nicole…Are any of the bars mentioned above a favorite of American students? I am planning on studying in Rome, and would like to meet fellow students! Thanks for the help!–Meghan

  6. Nicole says:
    August 23rd, 2008 at 13:55

    Hi Meghan,
    To answer your question…Friends and Freni e Frizioni are among the favorites for American college crowd, mainly because of location. Trastevere, where these bars are located, is also a neighborhood where a large university is located and a popular housing location for both American and Erasmus students.

  7. Phillip says:
    August 25th, 2008 at 03:00

    Nicole, reading your input of Italian Aperitivos was extremely helpful for planning my next visit to Rome with some old college friends! You definitely seem to know your stuff! By any chance will you be commenting on Rome’s other wonders ( restaurants, night clubs, the arts)? Thanks..

  8. massimo says:
    September 1st, 2008 at 23:21

    in my opinion there’s only a bad facet in this places: the quality of food is shoddy.

  9. Flavio says:
    October 9th, 2008 at 19:27

    I recently tried a new wine bar called Pepato just next to Freni e Frizioni (below the steps – Via del Politeama 8) and I should say that even if the quality of their drinks wasn’t the very best (but still good), the food was plentiful and delicious. I recommend going before 9 pm though, as the tortellini are later replaced with sandwiches.

  10. Flavio says:
    October 9th, 2008 at 19:29

    Oops… in place of the emoticon above was supposed to be an 8 for the door number, but it got mixed with the closed parenthesis.

  11. Laura says:
    October 10th, 2008 at 16:41

    Pepato is ok for ‘aperitivo’ as not only are the drinks nice and strong, the food is not bad either and you can sit outside on comfy sofas. You can also have table service at no extra cost which was nice as we didn’t have to risk loosing our seats to order. Only bad thing was waiting at the bar for our first drinks for ages and the waiter asked us several times what we had ordered. Strawberry Daiquiri was rather impressive when it came though.

    Beige just a few doors down from Pepito is slightly more livelier, The barmen are good at making cocktails and quickly too! Drinks are cheaper than in Pepito and just as good. No seating outside but very sociable so people just tend to congregate in the street which is nice.

  12. Laura says:
    October 10th, 2008 at 16:47

    sorry, ran out of space. Momart is by far the best place for aperitivo even tough its not in the centre, you can easily walk from piazza Bologna metro Station down Via XXI Aprile, it’s just after the supermarket. Plenty of seating inside and out although you may have to book towards the end of the week as it gets very busy and is not the kind of place you stand around in. Aperitivo amazing!! Momart is actually a Neapolitan Pizza place so the normal aperitivo items (pasta salads etc) are bumped up with delicious pizza slices. We literally piled up our plates and all for 8 Euro! very elegant inside but not to make you feel out of place. Definitely worth the metro ride if not for aperitivo then for dinner. The restaurant downstairs is fab and they have these great sorbet desserts that are a must!

  13. Jenny says:
    November 10th, 2008 at 05:17

    Well, can’t beat aperitifs, the Piazza is a good place.

  14. Nicole says:
    January 21st, 2009 at 23:05

    I found a couple of new bars that were chic and cozy. There’s Femme on Via del Pellegrino, 1. I went there on a Friday night before dinner and they had a nice spread for aperitivo buffet. As we were leaving, at just around 8:30ish, they even started playing live music! Nice touch. There’s also Level on Vicolo del Fico, 3. They do a special ‘Sex and the City’ themed night (Wednesdays) where they project the tv show’s episodes and even have a menu with cocktails related to the show. A very NYC lounge atmosphere.

  15. Marion says:
    January 22nd, 2009 at 11:36

    Thanks for the info Nicole. The “Sex & The City night” sounds fun! :-)

  16. carol says:
    July 6th, 2010 at 17:55

    Just returned from a 2 week trip to Rome and tried a few aperitivo bars recommended here and other sites. I was distinctly disappointed with Freni e Frizione. The food was plentiful but all looked and tasted the same. Unidentifyable really, one from the next. Also, the clientele were very young, it was crazy crowded, and the bartenders were snobby to us. We left immediately following a quick drink and one pass through the food table – 2 of us did not eat anything as it all looked like coucous. We went down the way about 20 feet to Friends. Much nicer atmosphere, no where near as crowded and we got a table on the street to eat and drink and people-watch. The food was better in my opionion although less abundant, still we ate our fill and that was our dinner. They had bruschetta, pasta, vegetables – all delicious. Also, the gentlemen who took my money for my drink was very friendly and gave me a mini italian lesson on how to order in italian. I came back later and asked for the bathroom (in italian) and he was pleased and praised me for my good pronunciation. Very friendly place, as the name suggests! I would pick Friends over Freni any day.

  17. valentina corsi says:
    February 7th, 2012 at 17:39

    You should try the new aperitif in the MET restaurant which is located in Ponte Milvio in Rome.
    They are organizing aperitif with excellent tapas, very very nice a good, and not common cocktails.

    The location is very nice, you can seat in beautiful leaving room.


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