There are plenty of reasons to grab a drink at the Trastevere bar Freni e Frizioni, but most people still end up here because of the aperitivo.
Aperitivo is by far and away one of the best things about living in Italy. It’s a brilliant invention.
What is an aperitivo? Well, it’s supposed to be a drink and a light snack to open up your appetite before dinner. But when you are a student living on an internship stipend, or traveling on any kind of budget, then ‘aperitivo’ roughly translates to ‘free meal with purchase of one drink.’
One of the most popular places to go for an aperitivo in Rome is Freni e Frizioni. The bar is set up in what used to be a mechanic’s shop, so the name means ‘brakes and clutches.’
The inside area is pretty cramped, but the bar is located in a great corner of Trastevere, 1 minute from Piazza Trilusa, and right next to Ponte Sisto.
Drinks at Freni e Frizioni are steep, even by Rome standards. Cocktails are €8 and beer is €6. Not even a pint, just a plastic cup of beer. Not only are drinks €8, they take approximately 4 hours to make.
Ok. Fine. Maybe, not quite 4 hours. More like 10 minutes, once you elbow your way to the front of the bar.
The wait is usually worth it, for two reasons:
1. The cocktails are damn good. Especially the mojitos. They basically put in an entire mint plant for you.
2. It comes with an all you can eat buffet. At least, I think it’s all you can eat. I’ve never really asked and never really been told differently via disapproving looks from the staff.
Here’s something you should know about me: sometimes I get embarrassed lugging around my giant DSLR and take awkward photos like the one above.
So here’s a less self-conscious one:
The free buffet food at Freni e Frizioni is vegetarian, and Middle East inspired, and very very salty. But, in fairness, I did mention that I’m on a grad school budget and sometimes a girl wants a stiff drink and some bar food in a cool Roman piazza.
Freni e Frizioni
Via del Politeanna 4
06 583 34 210
Update 2013: It’s ok… the aperitivo is salty and the drinks are slow, but during the summer, it’s still a good excuse to linger in the piazza.
Update 2018: I still like it. The aperi-cena is massive and good.