The Local Fare: How to Order Aperitivos in Milan

The best tips on how to eat a mini-meal before your real meal

Just like their espresso, the Milanese like to eat their food little by little. Maybe it helps them fit into their designer skinny jeans. Either way, food culture in Milan dictates that thou shalt not eat dinner before the sun has set and you’ve eaten at least three kinds of carbs, one of which absolutely must be pasta. Thus, 6-9pm is the time for the aperitivo.

Originally invented in Milan, aperitivos are a magical, mouth-watering mélange of the concept of the hors d’oeuvre, tapas, and bar food, but they’re more about socializing than about the food itself. Chat while nibbling on simple plates of olives and nuts, or sometimes on dishes as involved as a full-on Italian lasagna. Either way, aperitivos help you whet your appetite while you sip a cocktail or two in preparation for a late-night dinner (basically, aperitivos remove the stigma of the midnight pizza run).

Order a cocktail (we recommend the Negroni) and grab a few bites to get those digestive juices going

Some tourists don’t really understand this concept (ahem, Americans) and do aperitivos like they’re at a buffet, indulging in a small mountain of chicken tikka masala while the savvy travelers around them are picking at their three or four cubes of buffalo mozzarella. To blend in better, order a cocktail (we recommend the Negroni) and grab a few bites to get those digestive juices going.

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