While in Rome, introduce yourself to the wonderful experience of happy hour a.k.a. aperitivo. Between 6:00 PM–8:00 PM – the period just after work and before dinner – café bars offer a variety of snacks free with a purchase of an aperitivo pre-dinner cocktail.
Immerse yourself among the locals; which gather in these spots to sip the typical aperitivi including Aperol-Spritz, Campari&Soda, Vermouth&Soda, or simply wine. Most locations offer a buffet of snacks along with your cocktail. Yes, the snacks are free – all you have to do is buy at least one cocktail. Some spots offer a slew of delicious treats that could easily fulfill your appetite before dinner.
Below are some locations that I happened upon while I living in Rome writing The Love Fool. In fact, these would be some the places my annoying characters would probably frequent.
Freni e Frizioni
Piazza Trilussa, Trastevere
This former garage (hence the name meaning ‘brakes and clutches’) hosts a younger crowd, however their buffet of pastas, rice dishes and fried bites (stuzzichini) are not to miss. The tables and buffet section can get crowded, so prepare your trip.
Piazza Trilussa, Trastevere
This tiny place located on the corner in Piazza Trilussa, is strictly a wine bar offering a large selection of Roman-style pizza slices (small rectangular pieces). This place is small, you must get there early to land a spot. Oh, and the wines are phenomenal!
Piazza Piscinula, Trasevere
This is my absolute favorite spot for morning coffee, evening aperitivo, lunch or dinner. This place is incredible. The ambiance, décor and staff are a mix of bohemian and class. Live music (typically jazz) is featured during happy hour, along with a delicious buffet of treats. Coffee is served in flowery teacups. The seating seems like a collection from several old theatres and mansions. The décor is an assortment of random statues, chandeliers and mirrors hung crookedly along the walls. Lunch buffet and sit down dinner. Includes a selection of vegetarian options as well.
Bar del Fico
Piazza del Fico
This hot spot for the artsy and very well-dressed crowd is located within the maze of cobble-stoned streets just passed Piazza Navona. Sit here and have a cocktail – the free happy hour buffet is worth it – great pizza and focaccia.
Gusto al 28
Piazza Augusto Imperatore
By far, one of the BEST Happy Hour offerings in town. Gusto’s buffet of bites range from fried potato croquettes and tiny pizza bites to mini frittata squares and vegetable rice balls. The cocktails are great and the staff is super friendly and fun. You’ll want to stay for dinner – it’s delicious. Note: Gusto also serves Italian brunch on Sundays – includes a dessert section with fudge brownies, donuts and more.
Outside of center
Piazza Geremia Bonomelli 9, Rome
A former milk-bar from the 1930s, this bar bistrot offer some of the best cocktails in Rome. In addition to quality creative drinks, Latteria Garbatella offers a display of snacks from cous cous to vegetable with fresh dipping oil.