When you head to Aperitivo hour in Italy, it's not peanuts or pretzels you'll find at the table: it's crackers.
Step aside, bar nuts! Italy's elevated crackers are a tasty alternative, and a ritual you can take home with you. Rich taralli, crispy rubata and light-as-air puffed crackers are all among the delicious contenders that Italy's aperitivo hour has to offer.
New York Times has referred to Taralli as "the potato chip of Italy," and we're inclined to agree. These little snacks from Puglia have a buttery bite to them, and are usually richly flavored with olive oil. Similar to potato chips, it's just about impossible to have only one.
The decadent flavor of Taralli is perfect for aperitivo hour, because it pairs so well with the astringent and bright flavors of pre-dinner cocktails. These are found all over the country in bars and eateries of all price-points, but they're most prevalent in southern Italy.
Rubata learned to walk so that breadsticks could run - aka, this is the oldest form of breadstick known in culinary history. These rustic and knobby crackers are perfectly crunchy, and excellent for dipping into just about anything - bean dips, tapenades, pinzimonio and beyond.
Or, do as Giada does and dunk the salty rubata right into chocolate-hazelnut spread - it's a pretty perfect bite.
These light-as-air crackers are new to the game, but they're so good, we have a feeling it won't be long before they're just as common as other Italian cacker contenders. Light and crunchy, this pan d’aria (“air bread”) from Mario Fongo is a cloud of delicious flavor. A new innovation from the family-run bakery that specializes in traditional breads and crackers from their native Piedmont region, these oval crackers are hollow with a thin, crispy shell. How they create that signature puff is a closely guarded secret; all we know is that they’re utterly irresistible.