Features NY Life — 24 September 2010
The Feast of San Gennaro

Three days remain in perhaps the most famous festival New York City has to offer.  On Sunday, September 26th, the rides will be taken down, the stages disassembled, and the carnival games packed up as the annual San Gennaro festival in Little Italy will conclude.  LocalBozo made the long awaited trip to the ten day feast-ival last night and urges you to do the same before the celebration finishes up until 2011.

Crowds of people swarm Mulberry Street in the historic neighborhood as the sights and smells of grilled sausage and pepper sandwiches, fried oreos and zeppoles, and fresh Italian pastry stands line the streets in a boardwalk atmosphere, without the actual boardwalk itself.  Other outdoor stands include cigar shoppes, t-shirt stands featuring every Jersey Shore type shirt and sweatshirt imaginable, and even a circus like bearded lady and two faced boy ($2 admission).  Also there are a number of outdoor beer and wine patios for the casual drinker to enjoy.

The sheer amount of people in the area can be overwhelming, but they are absolutely a sight to be seen.  Aside from walking right past comedian Luis Guzman, there are jacked up meatheads in wife-beaters, coincidentally the same shirt tops shared by the perpetually out of shape and sloppy looking fat guys.  There are younger girls dressed to the nines for a night out in Gotham, and the authentic Italian girls with full on sweat suits and track jackets with the word “Italia” across their behinds.  And then of course the elderly, which we managed to get trapped behind every time that we felt we were making some progress.  But alas, such is New York, and any event that draws the locals and the tourists is sure to be congested.

Each of the restaurants in Little Italy extends some makeshift stages to create outdoor seating during the festival, and many of the prix-fixed dining options are actually quite affordable.  This being one of the few times annually that we visit the area, we decided to take in an Italian dinner at one of the packed eateries.  Although the regional cuisine in Little Italy may be overrated or considered non-authentic, this year we sat down at Sofia’s on Mulberry between Hester Street & Grand Street.  The mussels and chicken francaise were savory and appropriately cheap, and we were seated and served quickly in the packed outdoor area.  Other sit down favorites of ours during the festival are Da Gennaro and Pelligrino, which ranked as the number one restaurant in Little Italy last year.

After dinner, we hit a local stand for a delicious fried zeppole and a fried snickers bar, both of which made us drop to our knees and beg for mercy.  And walking past the water shooting and basketball shot games for prizes, and the countless number of pizza and sandwich stands, we were ready to head back home and back to reality.  The San Gennaro Festival is a relatively corny, if not traditional event in New York City.  But crowds aside, the festival is always fun and if you are Italian, it holds a special place in your heart.  And if you aren’t Italian, Hey Fugeddabouddit!

-  Jane Van Arsdale

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(1) Reader Comment

  1. Nicely done, sounds like another wonderful and exciting event that u guys have identified in this our electric city . The pictures tell the entire story. I enjoyed them all