Thursday, March 02, 2017

Modena, Italy: Aperitivo in a Secret Alley (Bar Enoteca Ristretto)

The ‘aperitivo’ culture is one of the things I love about northern Italy. The Italians in this part of the country take this seriously to heart and practice aperitivo after work hours.

So I discovered aperitivo many years ago on a trip to Verona with Blondine, where we ended up one evening skipping dinner as we sipped on our second round of cocktails and wine. Little bits of delicious Italian goodness never seemed to stop coming to our table. We were somewhat puzzled, but of course, we never complained, afraid they would stop sending the delicious treats. But we really wondered -- Why are we getting free food? Haha. Suffice to say, our dinner plans were thwarted down the drain that night, but then that gave us an excuse to order another round.

It was when we learned about Italy’s happiest hour(s) of the day. Well at least in northern Italy where aperitivo is a lifestyle set in stone.

Aperitivo at Bar Enoteca Ristretto

In Modena, I had a very early aperitivo and I am not apologising for it. Apertivo hours are usually between late afternoons and before dinner time. But it doesn’t say you cannot get aperitivo earlier, as long as it is after lunch of course.

Whilst walking around Via Adeodato Malatesta, I passed by this narrow alley with people having a very late lunch. The alley is slightly hidden from the main street but still visible, especially if you are the observant and thorough type who can canvas an area quickly and spot the unusual stuff. Well, I am guilty, I tend to do this a lot. Now in Italy, it is normal for people to have lunch for long hours. The Italians love to sit outdoors and talk with family, friends and colleagues over food and drinks. The tourists seem to follow this local trend as well when in Italy. And this is another thing about the country that I really love. You eat outdoors, you take your time and you spend it with people that matter to you.

Writing this post now makes me want to plan a trip to Italy! But if I go, it will have to be the south, because the farthest I have been so far was Frascati, which is half an hour south of Rome. I could live in Italy, you know!

[To read the rest of the post and see more pictures, click the Read more link below]

So out of curiosity, I stopped in front of this narrow alley and stepped into it, passing by the tables of the late lunch goers, as I hear them laughing in the background and continuing on with their drawn-out lunch affair. I wondered about trivial things at the back of my mind such as the time they will be eating dinner later that night. Then I thought about myself. Should I take a table as well? Or perhaps, I will go inside the bar first and check out what they have? As I turned around to look back at the alley and the diners, I saw the view.

Oh wow, there she is... I then humbly realised why this little discreet street is special. It has direct views to the Modena Cathedral. I paused for a moment to gaze at its spire, and then I was sure that I will sit here and have a drink.

View from Vicolo Camillo Coccapani

Lovely view of the Modena Cathedral from the narrow alley.

I went inside Bar-Enoteca Ristretto, which is a cross establishment between an enoteca (bar) and an osteria (casual café restaurant) serving regional fares and wines. They have some ready-to-eat food sitting on the glass counter which I presume will be offered for aperitivo later. I have had lunch earlier at the Caffeteria del Piazza on Piazza Grande so I do not need another bite, well not for now, but a drink would be lovely outside on the small alley.

Hospitality places in Italy are very used to tourists these days, so the man behind the counter spoke to me in Italian-English combo which I really appreciate. I told him I would like a glass of white wine and if he can suggest me something. He further asked if I prefer sweet or dry. I said somewhat dry and not too sweet. He nodded. I cannot remember the name of the grape or which DOC the wine came from, although it could have been a Trebbiano. All I know is that it was surely a local wine from the region. He then said I can go take a seat outside while he prepares the order.

After a few minutes, a young girl greeted me as she placed the glass of white wine, a bowl of crisps and a little puff pastry with ham on the table. I was not expecting such reception with food. It seems that they have served me an aperitivo? Well, I won’t say no of course, haha. I mean, there’s nothing wrong with having an early aperitivo, right?

But there’s something about the world of bread and pastry in Italy that I really like in particular. It must have been the herbs. Or the hearty and very distinct Italian flavours perhaps? Because honestly, I do not have near similar experiences with France and Spain, whose bakery I noticed tend to be on the creamier and sweeter side. Sorry, not my kind of thing, but there are for sure other delights France and Spain will have me dreaming.

My plan after Modena is to go to Parma, but for now, I can sit here in private and relish the moment. In this small somewhat secret alley, as I sip my chilled white wine and enjoy the view of the Modena cathedral.

I managed to find the location of the bar on Google Maps:

The bar enoteca has no website but it is listed luckily on Google Maps. It is located on the street, Vicolo Camillo Coccapani. This is on the corner crossing of main streets, Via Sant’Eufemia and Via Adeodato Malatesta. This alley enjoys direct views to the Duomo Cathedral.

I also realised that this is a popular local place. I did a quick online search and the bar enoteca seems to have a lively atmosphere in the evenings, most often frequented by the people in the neighbourhood. So I guess I can pretty much say that Bar-Enoteca Ristretto is easily one of the best places to go for coffee, lunch or an apertivo in Modena. There is a secret appeal to this place and the fact that it has a direct view to the cathedral makes it all the more special.

More pictures here:

Bar Enoteca Ristretto in Modena, Italy

The narrow alley of the bar enoteca -- Vicolo Camillo Coccapani.

Aperitivo at Bar Enoteca Ristretto
Puff pastry

I much prefer hearty types of pastries like this.

Aperitivo at Bar Enoteca Ristretto

It is a bit hidden =)

Travel Period: May 2016
Destination: Modena (Emiglia-Romagna), Italy

Keep in touch and follow me on Facebook: Travel & Lifestyle Diaries by Dutched Pinay Travels
Happy Travels! Enjoy Life =)

All pictures were taken by a point and shoot pocket camera or a smartphone.

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