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Best aperitivo hours in Melbourne restaurants and bars

What comes complimentary could be as simple as chips and olives, or as elaborate as sourdough crackers with wagyu and bone marrow. Here’s where to find them.

Tomas Telegramma

Italy’s pre-dinner aperitivo ritual means spritzes and complimentary snacks blanket piazzas country-wide. “Every time you order a drink, they send something out (to eat),” says Anthony Scutella, owner of treasured Melbourne Italian restaurant Scopri and newly opened sibling Bar Olo. “It’s rare here,” he continues. But not impossible to find.

For our new series Specials Board, aimed to help you get more bang for your dining buck, we’ve rounded up eight of Melbourne’s best aperitivo hours – for free snacking.

Carlton North’s Bar Olo dishes out nuggets of fine aged parmesan with drinks during aperitivo hour.
Carlton North’s Bar Olo dishes out nuggets of fine aged parmesan with drinks during aperitivo hour.Simon Schluter

Bar Olo, Carlton

Bar Olo is certainly suave. But that doesn’t mean snacking here has to cost a small fortune. The Piedmont-inspired, barolo-specialising wine bar runs a daily aperitivo hour (or, more accurately, two hours) where your drink comes with a complimentary bite. That could mean a nugget of parmigiano reggiano or a zeppola: deep-fried dough ball.

Aperitivo is Wednesday to Saturday-Sat, 4pm-6pm; 165 Nicholson Street, Carlton, barolocarlton.com.au

Enoteca Zingara, Fitzroy

Free snacks like pizza fritta (fried pizza), potato-and-rosemary focaccia, and giardiniera (pickled Italian vegetables) aren’t the only reason for you to knock off early and make a beeline for Enoteca Zingara at aperitivo hour, from 4pm. The just-opened Brunswick Street wine bar from hatted trattoria Alta, right around the corner, also has some wallet-friendly drinks specials to lure you in: $6 Peronis and $6 Camparis.

Aperitivo is Wednesday to Monday, 4pm-5pm, 334 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, enotecazingara.com

Torino Aperitivo, where the clue is in the name.
Torino Aperitivo, where the clue is in the name.Kim Jane

Torino Aperitivo, CBD
Tucked down a little city laneway, this charming Italian-style bar takes aperitivo culture so seriously that’s it literally named after it. Take a trip to Torino Aperitivo and be rewarded with an on-the-house bite with your first round, as long as you’re there before 6pm. The drinks specials are an added bonus: expect $6 schooners and house wines, $12 Venetian spritzes and $14 Negronis and espresso martinis. Bargains all round.

Aperitivo is Tuesday to Thursday, 4pm-6pm and Friday-Saturday, 3pm-6pm,
2 Driver Lane, Melbourne, torinoaperitivo.com.au

Wagyu and bone marrow on a sourdough cracker at Neighbourhood Wine.
Wagyu and bone marrow on a sourdough cracker at Neighbourhood Wine.Supplied

Neighbourhood Wine, Fitzroy North

Sip outside, snack for free. That’s the gist of Patio Aperitivo at Neighbourhood Wine, one of the north side’s ride-or-die wine bars. Every drink ordered on the (heated, umbrella-covered) patio gets you a fancy snack from head chef Almay Jordaan’s seasonally rotating menu – free of charge. Maybe it’ll be Black Opal wagyu and bone marrow on a sourdough cracker, or a spelt tart with smoked-salmon roe, crème fraiche and bottarga.

Patio Aperitivo is daily, 4pm-6pm, 1 Reid Street, Fitzroy North, neighbourhoodwine.com

Aperitivo hour at Ombra.
Aperitivo hour at Ombra.Supplied

Ombra, CBD

Afternoons at Ombra – the classy Bourke Street salumi bar from leading Italian chef-restaurateur Guy Grossi – are all about cicchetti, or small Venetian-style snacks. The best part? They’re on the house. The offering usually includes some type of pizzette (small pizzas), tramezzini (triangular-cut sandwiches) and crostini (slices of crunchy grilled bread) topped with anything from pate to pickles to parmigiano reggiano.

Aperitivo is Wednesday to Sunday, 5pm-7pm, 76 Bourke Street, Melbourne ombrabar.com.au

Negroni sbagliatos and snacks at Bianchetto.
Negroni sbagliatos and snacks at Bianchetto.Kristoffer Paulsen

Bianchetto, Kew

There are plenty of reasons Kew locals can’t get enough of Joe Vargetto’s recently
relocated Sicilian restaurant Mister Bianco and new companion cocktail bar Bianchetto, in the next-door space. The latest is Bianchetto’s three-nights-a-week aperitivo hour, which has only just launched. Your drink – perhaps an Americano made tableside – will arrive alongside a complimentary platter of bite-sized snacks. There could be classics like arancini or bruschetta, or Vargetto’s Sicilian take on the humble sausage roll.

Aperitivo is Thursday to Saturday, 5pm-6pm, 26-28 Cotham Road, Kew misterbianco.com.au/bianchetto

Take a seat at the Rossi bar for free chips and olives with your drink.
Take a seat at the Rossi bar for free chips and olives with your drink. Supplied

Rossi, Prahran

Where Ladro TAP once was on Greville Street, Rossi keeps the good times rolling, thanks to owner Good Company, also behind nearby party spots Electric and The Emerson. Pizza remains a massive drawcard at Rossi, but it’s worth timing your visit around the daily aperitivo special. The free snacks are simple yet satisfyingly salty – just chips and olives, a classic aperitivo offering all across Italy – and select cocktails are $9.

Aperitivo is Thurday to Sunday, 12pm-6pm, 162 Greville Street, Prahran, rossi.bar

Aperitivo is available only from the flagship Carlton Brunetti Classico.
Aperitivo is available only from the flagship Carlton Brunetti Classico. Supplied

Brunetti Classico, Carlton
What do you like the sound of: potato croquettes, olive all’ascolana (stuffed with meat, then crumbed and fried), fried ravioli? At Melbourne’s cult Italian cafe Brunetti Classico, $16 will get you a bite of your choice alongside a beer, wine or cocktail. But there are two important things to remember: the aperitivo special is only available at the Carlton location, and you need to download the Brunetti Classico app to redeem the offer.

Aperitivo is Thursday to Sunday, 5pm-7pm, 380 Lygon Street, Carlton, brunetticlassico.com.au

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