True Italian Bites to Serve With Aperitivo
In little bars across Northern Italy, friends and family will get together in the early evenings to enjoy aperitivo. The tradition of aperitivo is as much about the drinks and small plates served as it is about the atmosphere that’s created when these are enjoyed in good company. Capture the spirit of Italian aperitivo with your friends at home with the perfect Aperol Spritzes and some classic Italian aperitivo bites.
What is cicchetti?
Cicchetti is the word used to refer to different types of small plates served alongside afternoon drinks in Venice. If, for example, you order an Aperol Spritz in a Venetian bar, you’ll be served a little snack alongside your drink. It could be a polpette, it could be a crostini, or it could be something else that’s a specialty of that bar. That little snack is cicchetti.
What are some of the most popular cicchetti?
Crostini are crispy little slices of bread with just about any topping you can imagine. We’re partial to tapenade, but bars in Venice will stack them with anything from cured meats to soft cheeses or seasonal vegetables. Crostini are easy to make vegan or vegetarian, and if you’ve got gluten-free guests, you can even bake slices of polenta and top them like crostini for a similar and equally delicious snack.
Polpette are miniature meatballs. Smaller than their spaghetti-topping counterparts, they’re served on their own with a toothpick for easy snacking. They’re easy to make at home and easy to customise, if you’re so inspired.
Arancini take their name from their resemblance to little oranges (arancine), making them the perfect accompaniment to an Aperol Spritz. Arancini originated in Sicily, but they’re now enjoyed all over Italy (and the world!). They’re made of risotto that’s been formed into a little ball then coated in breadcrumbs and fried. Sometimes, they’ll be filled with meat or vegetables (or even Nutella!) – experiment and find your favourite way to make them!
Like the tea sandwich’s continental cousin, tramezzini are small, triangular sandwiches made of soft white bread with the crusts cut off. They can be filled with almost anything you choose – go classic with Prosciutto or mix it up with summery grilled vegetables or even something sweet.
Visit our recipes hub to find out how to make the perfect Aperol Spritz for your friends and get ideas for hosting your very own aperitivo hour