While Sydneysiders might be a little late to the aperitivo party (Italians have been doing it for centuries), that doesn’t mean we don’t know how to whet our appetites right with delicious spritzes and snacks. Here are the best spots in Sydney to enjoy a tasty and social prelude to an evening’s meal, Italian style.
Inspired by the lively, all-day dining haunts of Milan and Rome, Matteo Downtown dishes up pastries in the morning, an express lunch for busy bees, before segueing into aperitivo hour, dinner and drinks. Their legendary aperitivo hour, Monday-Friday between 4pm-6pm, allows revellers to have their cocktail and eat it too – with complimentary snacks served up with every drink. Now that’s what we call European hospitality.
20 Bond Street, Sydney
A firm favourite with Negroni fans, this quirky deli-cum-cocktail bar serves some of the best Italian cocktails this side of Venice. Not only are their Campari infusions dangerously delicious, they come served in their own kitsch retro cans, for that added wow factor. The menu isn’t strictly Italian, there are some French and Spanish entries too, but that doesn’t detract from the glorious selection of Italian cured meats and cheeses on offer – think mortadella, prosciutto, tallegio and tangy Parmigiano-reggiano. Work your way through their Italian amaros, vermouths and aperitifs for a truly authentic aperitivo experience.
Locations in Phillip Street, CBD and Elizabeth Street, Newtown
Sitting pretty on Dee Why's The Strand, Corretto is the beachside cocktail bar-slash-eatery the Northern Beaches has been waiting for. The amazing cocktails pair perfectly with the shared-style menu – an aperitivo haven. Pop in for a cheeky drink during their daily aperitivo (4pm-6pm), where you can sip on discounted pints, vino and cocktails, while snacking on charcuterie, cured salmon and burrata.
24 The Strand, Dee Why
Tucked away on Pailings Lane, Merivale's Bar Topa is a Spanish-style tapas bar. Inspired by the social experience of tapas-style dining, Bar Topa is as authentic as they come – from the vibrant atmosphere to the traditional flavours. Popular with the 9 to 5 set, Bar Topa's selection of small bites and dishes cooked on 'la plancha' are perfect for an after-work aperitivo.
4 Palings Lane, Sydney
An idyllic spot to sip Sicilian wine paired with burrata con caviale at the water’s edge. This pop-up is possibly one of the chicest aperitivo hangouts in Sydney, and boasts a fabulous menu of classic cocktails and fine Italian fare. Add the stunning harbour views and you’re all set.
6 Cowper Wharf Road, Woolloomooloo
A stylish hangout that will have you lingering well into the evening, Casoni’s Italian pairs Negronis and Aperol Spritz with sumptuous cheese boards, house-made pickles, and prawn croquettes – setting the scene of what is to come with their impressive main course offerings.
371-373 Bourke Street, Darlinghurst
A vino in one hand and a tasty aperitivo in the other – that’s how it’s done at Italian Bar. This Italian bar and eatery on Oxford Street serve everything with gusto, from food to drinks to buzzing atmosphere. Pop in for an early evening aperitivo and enjoy their fine selection of Italian wines paired with flavourful antipasti, focaccias, bruschetta, and marinated olives.
438 Oxford Street, Paddington
To make aperitivo hour even more enticing, The Dolphin Hotel has an impressive roster of guest chefs to tantalise tastebuds with their super-value snacks that don’t go above $7. From Sunday to Thursday, 5pm to 7pm, the Wine Room is buzzing with Prosecco, spritzes, Tuscan-fried chicken, fried olives and anchovy toast.
412 Crown Street, Surry Hills
With a name like that, you’d better believe the appetisers are bang on at Aperitivo. Located on Leichhardt’s Norton Street (a.k.a. Little Italy), the rustic restaurant-slash-pizzeria serves a curated selection of aperitivo dishes to accompany their boutique wine selection. Zucchini flowers filled with fresh ricotta, classic antipasti, sautéed mussels, and deep-fried calamari are ready to whet your appetite.
163 Norton Street, Leichhardt