3 aperitivo dishes to bring Italy home to you

Italy is a food nation. Its regions are defined by it, its culture is based on it and its language is the song for your supper. With the help of renowned Italian chef Giovanni Pilu, we have 3 aperitivo recipes that will bring the flavour of Italy home to you.

Aperitivo with Zonin Prosecco and Giovanni Pilu

Italians don’t do snacks the same way we do. They even have a different name for them: aperitivi. The aperitivo is an amazing thing; simple ingredients cleverly combined and deliciously executed. Just as you’d expect with Italian food.

Whenever we’re away from Italy, we really miss its food. So when we recently met with Italian masterchef Giovanni Pilu from his eponymous restaurant in Freshwater, Sydney, we were incredibly excited.

At the Sydney Seafood School in the Fish Markets here, Giovanni taught us how to create 3 aperitivo dishes that will not only impress our friends at our next dinner party, but will take us right back to Italy and the beautiful food there.

Aperitivo with Zonin Prosecco and Giovanni Pilu

Aperitivo with Zonin Prosecco - MMR

3 aperitivo dishes to bring Italy home to you

1. Mozzarella en Carozza – the best toasted cheese sandwich you’ll ever eat

Serves 4 as an entrée or aperitivo. Takes about 20 minutes

Here’s what you need

– 8 slices white bread – crusts removed

– 2 buffalo mozzarella balls – sliced into 1cm discs

– 8 good quality anchovies

– 150ml milk

– 5tbsp plain flour

– 3 eggs – beaten and seasoned with salt and pepper

– Oil for frying

Here’s what you do

1. Make 4 sandwiches with the bread, cheese and anchovies, leaving a gap around the edges.

2. Press the edges of the sandwiches to seal them.

3. Dip the sandwiches in the milk, then the flour and then the egg.

4. Fry the sandwiches in medium-hot oil (about 170°C) on both sides until brown and crisp. Drain on paper towels, halve and serve with glass of Zonin Prosecco.

Aperitivo with Zonin Prosecco and Giovanni Pilu

Aperitivo with Zonin Prosecco and Giovanni Pilu

2. Hiramasa Kingfish crudo with orange and prosecco dressing

Serves 4-6 as an entrée or aperitivo. Takes about 15 minutes

Here’s what you need

– 300g piece of Hiramasa Kingfish – ask for the mid-section if you can

– 30ml extra virgin olive oil

– 10ml Zonin Prosecco

– 5ml Chardonnay vinegar

– ½ an orange – juice and zest

– 5g brown sugar

– 1 whole fennel bulb washed and finely sliced – keep the fronds for decoration

– 1 radish, thinly sliced

– 10g bottarga, grated (bottarga is compressed white mullet roe and adds huge umami flavours)

– A sprinkling of micro watercress

Here’s what you do

1. Slice the Kingfish into 2mm slices with a very sharp knife and arrange on a platter.

2. Add the orange juice and zest, Chardonnay vinegar, sugar and prosecco to a bowl and – in a slow, steady stream – pour the olive oil in as you whisk.

3. Adjust the flavour with salt, pepper and perhaps a little lemon juice.

4. Spoon the dressing abundantly over the sliced Kingfish, then scatter the fennel and its fronds, radish and watercress over the fish. Finish with a sprinkle of the bottarga, salt and pepper.

Aperitivo with Zonin Prosecco and Giovanni Pilu

Aperitivo with Zonin Prosecco and Giovanni Pilu

Aperitivo with Zonin Prosecco

3. Prosecco zabaglione and mixed berries

Serves 4 as a dessert aperitivo. Takes about 15-20 minutes

Here’s what you need

– 200ml prosecco – we used Zonin Prosecco

– 4 egg yolks and 2 whole eggs (6 eggs needed in total)

– 3 tbsp sugar

– Zest of ½ an orange

– 1 punnet of strawberries (hulled and halved), blueberries and raspberries

– 50g chilled dark chocolate

Here’s what you do

1. Divide the berries between 4 bowls.

2. Combine the eggs, yolks, zest and sugar in a glass bowl, and whisk over a simmering bain marie for about 2 minutes.

3. Add the prosecco and continue whisking until the mixture doubles in size. The zabaglione is done when a dollop dropped on a plate retains its shape without going flat.

4. Remove from heat and allow to cool a little, then spoon the zabaglione over the berries. Grate chocolate generously over the dessert and serve immediately.

Aperitivo with Zonin Prosecco - MMR

Aperitivo with Zonin Prosecco

These dishes all pair perfectly with the beautiful Italian prosecco from Zonin, which we’ve used in some of the recipes as well. The Zonin Prosecco House in the northeastern Italian region of Veneto has been around for almost 200 years.

7 generations of the Zonin family have crafted this elegantly drinkable and quintessentially Italian sparkling wine.

You can now find Zonin Prosecco in good restaurants, BWS and Dan Murphy’s across Australia RRP $17.99.

Aperitivo hour is probably one of the most magical parts of the Italian culinary day. At a certain time – usually around 6pm – bars and cafés in Italy will bring out a little selection of snacks. Best of all, they’re often free when you buy a drink.

Here’s more about Aperitivo Hour and how you can eat for free in Italy!

What’s the best thing you’ve eaten in Italy? Do you have a favourite Italian snack? What’s your go-to entrée when people are over for dinner? Tell us in the comments!

Aperitivo with Zonin Prosecco and Giovanni Pilu


  • Reply June 26, 2018


    Looks yummy and very tasty!! thank you for sharing

    • Reply June 26, 2018

      Mr Romance

      Thanks Hazel. Very tasty indeed! Our next mission is to go to Italy and find them on location. Not a bad idea, ay? 😉

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