Let’s start at the beginning, as the authors suggest, and consider the concept of an aperitif. According to Oscar Balcon, the co-owner of Artusi, Delhi is crushing the recent Italian restaurant like a schoolgirl, “Back to the operative is a fun and glamorous way for Italians to call it ‘Dolce Vita’, meaning ‘beautiful life’.” The essence of this is to meet friends at a nearby bar and enjoy some sparkling wine, a cocktail or other drink. The bar will serve you a variety of small but delicious Italian finger dishes (and it will become an aperitivo). No one ever knows what will be served, but it’s always something that goes well with a pre-dinner drink, and no one complains because it’s delicious and with a kitchen compliment. “
In a city where pasta has become as normal as parantha, it is not surprising that Delhiites have embraced the idea with all their hearts and hands outstretched. Whether it’s a fine dining restaurant like Artusi or the new Amur Bistro, or casual places like Ruby’s Bar and Grill (formerly Ruby Tuesday Chain), restaurants are seeing a stream of patronage between 5-7pm during the previous “dry” time.
While Apparativo may be technically an Italian concept, other European restaurants are financing it, although there are tweaks. The popular French restaurant Le Bistro du Park has “Apero Hours” from 3.30pm to 6pm when it offers 1 + 1 deals on its full bar menu, in contrast to the usual format of free appetizers with regular priced drinks. The restaurant’s new executive chef, Alexis, breaks it down further, explaining, “The bar menu offers a selection of French favorites, such as chicken liver perfume, salad Parisian and crocus mansour and other sandwiches. Since the promotion is not exclusive to a specific alcohol, Apero attracts a lot of customers. We find Europeans who stop for Kir Royal or other champagne cocktails and snacks before dinner, as well as Japanese clients who tend to eat dinner early. As a result, they often reserve tables at 7pm to take advantage of the 1 + 1 offer of wine with their meals. Of course, we also have many Indian guests. ”
While Amour Bistro’s apperitivo hours are in full swing, Artusi plans to begin full-scale operations after the summer and is conducting rather successful tests at the moment. Depending on the day, they can serve hot pyadina bread with Prosciutto di Parma, Mortadella, Salame or other cured meats, or bread with cheese and herbs, or pizzet (small pizza), or brushes with tomatoes or cheese or olives. Sometimes crisp or french fries, calamari and beaten or pickled vegetables are available.
But there must be a catch, right? There is no such thing as free food, as countless movies, books and old aunts have told us. Apparently not. Balcon concludes, “All food served at the bar for general use (no individual orders or requests) is completely appreciated. There are no formal rules or limits on quantity or selection, but one hopes that guests will realize that the complimentary food is just that, there in a dignified way and provided by the kitchen. Communicating with an open mind, it can be a real joy and turn any dull weekly evening into a small celebration. Amen. Salute, even.