Ah, the aperitivo hour in Italy, like happy hour in the U.S. but so much better. I love bitters and Italy is full of bitter aperitif options: Aperol is a spritzer favorite in Italy and is very refreshing, combining the flavors of bitter orange, rhubarb and gentian, an alpine flowering plant. Campari is also popular—my husband ‘s favorite drink is a Negroni which combines Campari, sweet vermouth and gin. It’s too strong for my taste, but I can certainly appreciate the bitter flavor. I always buy Crodino in the supermarket (a flavorful non-alcoholic bitter that I discovered while pregnant). In fact, when we return to Chicago I need to find a store that carries it.
Back to Italian happy hour. In addition to the bitter aperitifs, I really like how bars and cafés offer an array of appetizers—all included with the price of a drink. Many of these appetizers are beautifully presented and delicious to eat. So for 3-5 euros, I get a nice drink and an all-you-can-eat selection of delicious cheeses, pasta, fruit salad, mini pizzas, olives, or, on a recent outing, a lovely couscous dish. One of our favorite bars is Casa Vaccaj, housed in one of the oldest edifices in Pesaro, and whose owners offer a really excellent spread of diverse appetizers: a mix of strawberries, pistachios and grapes; spinach quiche; slices of lonza (a local salt-cured pork) and slabs of parmigiano reggiano; a salad of mint, balsamic vinegar and eggplant cubes, and much more.
Another plus? During any restaurant or café outing, you can sit as long as you like without feeling rushed. And in Pesaro, many places are very baby-friendly—even the trendy bars—which is a major plus!
How about digestivos? Those are great too and will be the subject of a future post.