Aperitivo in Rome: Freni e Frizioni

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.’

Outdoor tables with red chairs in front of Freni e Frizioni in Rome

The calm before the aperitvio storm at Freni e Frizioni

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.

In my many visits, I have sat at a table exactly one time. In the winter.  But don’t despair, all the cool kids hang out in the piazza and sit along the walls. Young people on a sunny day in front of Freni e Frizioni in Trastevere

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.

cous cous and salad on a buffet table for the Freni e Frizioni aperitivo

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:

plate with vegetables, chick peans and vegetarian dips from Freni e Frizioni

The aperitivo at Freni e Frizioni is 100% vegetarian

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
Trastevere, Rome

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.

11 Comments

  • Reply neekoh September 1, 2011 at 4:34 pm

    The name itself is reason enough for me to come back and get my aperitivo on. Miss yoooooou.

    • Reply L'americana September 4, 2011 at 3:38 am

      Miss you! I know tickets are a little steep, but we’ll eat well on the cheap when you get here 😉

  • Reply Justine September 1, 2011 at 7:32 pm

    Natalie, I went to Freni e Frezoni last year! It was featured in the Lonely Planet guide and it was one of the better recs in Rome. You’re so right about the piazza- it’s totally where the cool kids are, such a great location and I can confirm that they have a GREAT selection of food to stretch that extra euro! If you can, please add this to aperitif post in the comments so you can get the street credit 😉

    http://littlemisslocal.com/2011/08/10/culture-shock-aperitivo-northern-italy/

    Thanks, Justine!!

    • Reply L'americana September 4, 2011 at 2:05 am

      Great list, Justine! I need to write up a few more Roman bars because I am a bit of an aperitivo fiend. I gotta write to Lonely Planet and convince them to add more legit recommendations! There are a ton of places just as good as Freni, but they never get the attention they deserve.

  • Reply Murissa September 2, 2011 at 3:07 pm

    Looks delicious and maybe even a good place to meet locals?

    The Wanderfull Traveler

    • Reply L'americana September 4, 2011 at 2:24 am

      It can be! The bar is actually very close to a large American university, so the crowd is evenly split between Romans and English-speaking students.

  • Reply Jimmy September 3, 2011 at 4:48 am

    Love this blog miss American In Rome. I read your blog when ever its put up. I bet you’re very pretty. We should meet up some time. Here is my number 3493966299. Or email me at jimmygogh@hotmail.com. I hope to hear from you.

    Jimmy.

  • Reply Khathy September 8, 2011 at 1:55 am

    that is an amazing deal and the food looks delicious!!!!

  • Reply La Punta: Mexican Food and Cocktails in Trastevere, Rome – An American in Rome January 15, 2017 at 10:25 pm

    […] are all surprising bonuses.  Agaveria La Punta is the love child of The Jerry Thomas Project and Freni e Frizioni, there is a big emphasis on perfect […]

  • Reply A Cocktail Tour of Rome – An American in Rome January 17, 2017 at 9:57 pm

    […] By cocktail stop number three? I reasoned that I should proooooobably put my camera away and focus on the apericena. The large buffet spread was the perfect pairing with my mojito in Trastevere at one of the classic night spots, Freni e Frizione. […]

  • Reply Daniel June 2, 2018 at 3:10 pm

    I like your site, using it everytime i go to Rome. 1-3 times a year. I think Rome is best from november to march. Never tryed Aperitivo, how is this when you dont drink alcohol? Do you get the same treat with a non-alcohol drink?

    When i eat dinner in Rome i se that not all drink alcohol/wine, only water. One time i did eat dinner and they asked me if i wanted wine and i said no thank you i dont drink alcohol; the waiter did not like that at all. This is the only time in my life i have experienced that.

    Daniel.

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