Each Monday, we’re highlighting a bargain meal worth seeking out in this city. Most will feed you for less than $10.
Americans have happy hour. Italians have aperitivo. Meaning “to open,” the custom offers cocktails — specifically bitter beverages, like Campari-centric americanos or negronis — and complimentary appetizers. Ubiquitous throughout the motherland, the concept is not as common stateside. However, Ovest Pizzoteca & Bar (513 West 27th Street, Chelsea; 212-967-4392) gives customers a little taste of la dolce vita.
Monday through Friday from 5 to 8 p.m., the bar area offers free snacks with the purchase of a drink. Go the time-honored route with a negroni ($11) or Aperol spritz, a combination of Aperol, prosecco, and club soda. Or opt for a creative signature cocktail, such as the “Apple Zu,” with orange marmalade, lime juice, red apple liquor, Zubrowka vodka, egg white, and Jerry Thomas bitters.
Customary aperitivo snacks range from cheese, olives, and charcuterie to small quiches and dips. Ovest, however, offers its own take. The bar features an ever-changing spread of pizza, salad, finger sandwiches, bruschetta, fried calamari, and other apps.
While you never know what you’re going to get on a specific day, keep an eye out for the pizza. Regularly $17 to $20 for a large pie, each one incorporates high-quality ingredients (like imported buffalo mozzarella) on a thin crust, fired in a wood oven.
With free food and reasonably priced drinks (the house wine is $8 a glass, $30 a bottle), it’s easy to walk out stuffed for less than $15 — it’s one of many versions of Italian hospitality that’s hard to beat.