Whoever said “there’s no such thing as a free meal” must have never been to Rome.
Firmly established in Italian culture is an evening tradition known as aperitivo, where the purchase of a drink at almost any bar will earn you a plate and limitless buffet-style dining. So what are you waiting for? Grab your napkin and let’s go!
Via Fanfulla da Lodi 68, Pigneto
Necci has been in business since 1924, and is something of an institution on the Rome aperitivo scene.
€10 will get you a drink and one large plate of food from the buffet, where options include mini pizza, couscous, sandwiches, and quiche.
Piazza Testaccio 41
Don’t be fooled by the name of this place: the main highlight here is the aperitivo, for which locals begin queuing from 5:30pm.
€10 for a glass of wine or beer will gain you access to a long table of home cooked snacks, including lasagne, frittata, cold meat, and olives.
Via Ostiense 68
This is happy hour at its happiest, where the drinks are cheap and the food is flowing.
Renowned for having one of the most comprehensive aperitivo spreads in the city, this typically includes three to four types of pizza, foccaccia, pasta salads, suppli (fried rice balls) and a selection of meat and vegetarian dishes.
La Parolaccia & Sons
Vicolo de Cinque 3
Located next door to famous parent restaurant La Parolaccia is La Parolaccia & Sons, a success story in its own right.
This place markets drinks for €8 accompanied an unlimited buffet, with roast chicken, potato bake, stuffed eggplant, and crumbled zucchini.
Freni e Frizioni
Via del Politeama 4-6, Trastevere
Rome’s answer to the alternative bars of London’s Shoreditch and New York’s Williamsburg, Freni e Frizioni is situated in an old mechanic shop and attracts a young, hip crowd.
Drinks are cheap, and daily offerings include rice and pasta dishes, couscous, and dips such as minted yoghurt and hummus.
Piazza di Pietra 42
Best known for its aperitivo and accompanying cocktails for €10, Salotto 42 is one of the most popular spots in the city.
The buffet offers a generous selection of organic and vegetarian options, while the skilled bartenders will mix you one of their speciality cocktails to wash it all down.
Written by insider city guide series Hg2 | A Hedonist’s guide to… whose guide to Rome covers all the best hotels, restaurants, bars, clubs, sights, shops and spas.
(Featured image © Brett Lider/flickr)