In Italy, my aperitivo hour began with a Campari Orange (Campari and Orange juice), also known as the Garibaldi and a plate of fried green olives Ascolana-style, a sort of Italian style amuse-bouche. Other amusements soon followed: grilled red peppers and zucchini, bruschetta pomodoro, pizette, mozzarella in carrozza (literally, “mozzarella in a carriage”) and plates of affettati misti (a selection of sliced cured meats).
I could not be happier and my mouth more entertained. Culinarily speaking an amuse-bouche differs from an appetizer or an antipasto. Although all are served before a meal an amuse-bouche is not ordered from a menu but when served, is traditionally done so for free and according to the chef’s selection.
Designed to amuse the diner and showcase the artistry of the chef, these bite-sized hors d’œuvres are meant to “gratify the mouth” and entertain as you await your meal. Bar Italiano accompaniments, a complimentary mini-buffet of antipasti served at every aperitivo bar in Italy are the Italian version of the amuse-bouche. More substantial and varied they are part of the Italian ” happy hour”. I use the term “happy hour” loosely because in Italy the aperitivo hour is not the stereotypical “cocktail hour” filled with Tom Cruise flair .
An Italian tradition the aperitivo hour is an after work ritual that offers a moment of relaxation at the end of a day where you go for a pre-dinner drink to relax, nibble and nip and socialize with your friends. It’s a pretty great way to see and savor Italy.