A Pure Michigan Love Letter to Aperitivo in Grand Rapids

Our visit to APERITIVO at the Grand Rapids Downtown Market was one of the tourism features in my Pure Michigan Destination Guide: Driving to American Thanksgiving

‘To us, APERITIVO is not only a place but a time…

a time to get together and share good conversation, a quick (or not so quick) bite to eat & a glass of wine or beer. We want everyone to have this moment – So we are here to help you create the APERITIVO experience at home or share it with us.’

Such is the inspiration behind our nosh and lunch at Kate Leeder and Amy Ruis’  Aperitivo and indeed Kate Leeder welcomes us personally at Aperitivo’s communal table for a grazing-style lunch where we feast on fabulous marinated white anchovies, all lemony and parsley scented and piquillo peppers on lovely field & fire pieces of bread, domestic and imported artisanal cheeses that included choices from Moses Sleeper, Grayson, Tomme de Chèvre, Morbier, Garrotxa, Chällerhocker, Tête de Moine, Pecorino Toscano, four-year Gouda and Roquefort. (With so many choices, I honestly can’t remember what we enjoyed!) and The Meltdown: an ever-changing 3-cheese grilled sandwich served with a side savory spread. We added a muffuletta-style Italian sandwich, spilling over with lovely, salty La Quercia Prosciutto, Fra Mani Toscano Salami, and Salume Calabrese, topped off with a lovely bottle of Chablis to wash down our grazing nibbles.

While attempting to attend first-year college classes at  Wake Forest University, Kate Leeder’s passion for food began by watching the PBS run “Great Chefs, Great Cities” television series. The highlight of her restaurant career was Sous Chef at the now Michelin-starred NAHA in Chicago.  In 2006 she moved to Grand Rapids with her wildly charming and supposedly highly entertaining husband, Bill,  (NOT Tony!!) and brought her love of big city life, cheese, and specialty foods to the still-burgeoning Grand Rapids foodie scene.

Amy Ruis found her first serious interest in food early on when her father fed her an anchovy.  Blue cheese followed soon after, and then sardines.  The rest is savoury, salty history.  Amy will supposedly eat almost anything (except cooked peas that are NOT in a pod – it’s a texture issue). Along the way, Amy reportedly caught the retail bug. Her long association with Art of the Table has been a perfect vocation for her, teaming her love for decorating, entertaining and enjoying great food & drink which lends itself perfectly to the incredibly varied and beautiful tasty selections that Aperitivo offers.

Being the obsessive, detail-oriented hard worker that she is, Amy happily teamed up with business partner, Kate Leeder, to open Aperitivo.  With the limited space each store offers, they hope that both businesses can complement one another as ‘they feed Grand Rapids our favorite things.’

If you get a chance, and you should take the chance, linger a moment at their communal table, take some time away from the hectic market pace but most importantly, enjoy everything that Aperitivo has to offer!

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