This past Thursday, the San Gennaro Festival kicked off in Little Italy for the 87th year. The feast is held in honor of the patron saint of Naples, San Gennaro. Although it is a religious holiday, it is enjoyed by all for its food, fun and celebration of Italian American culture.
San Gennaro is the patron saint of Naples, and each year on three dates, including September 19, his blood miraculously liquefies. On September 19, the Most Precious Blood Church on Baxter Street holds Mass and the religious procession begins at the church and goes down Mulberry Street with traditional music played by a marching band.
If you are Roman Catholic or interested in the meaning behind the festival, you may want to check out the shrine to San Gennaro at the church.
The church also has other lovely statues and a beautiful grotto as well.
Outside the church on Mulberry Street, you can pin a dollar bill to the statue of San Gennaro as well as purchase religious articles.
The San Gennaro Festival has much for the family to enjoy, including games, kiddie rides, food, musical entertainment, celebrities and a guy in a cannoli suit.
Caffe Palermo advertises the best cannoli, and it’s good.
This year’s grand marshals were former New York governor Mario Cuomo and his wife, Matilda, and
a special appearance by honored guest, wrestler Bruno Sammartino.
The festival crowds the streets of Little Italy, and of course, everyone goes for the food. There’s traditional fair food, as well as traditional Italian food like sausage and peppers,
zeppole, clams, cannoli, gelato and ices, cookies, torrone, calzones, pizza and more.
This year, knockoff “cronuts,” or croissant doughnuts made an appearance. I got a cannoli-flavored one.
It was good–the cannoli cream was really good. It tasted like a cannoli cream-filled cinnamon doughnut.
At street fairs, I always get zeppole. They were yummy.
This year, I also got Irish cream gelato at Caffe Roma. This was particularly yummy. The bits of chocolate were soft. I hate when chocolate chunks in ice cream are hard, so I loved this.
And if you’re looking for a fried calzone, try Gina’s, the stand that claims to be the only fried calzone at the festival. Trust me, you’ve never had a calzone until you’ve had a fried one. That’s how my grandma always made them.
Or try the fried calzones at Little Italy’s restaurant Sal’s on Broome Street.
And the pizza there is perfect New York-style.
I also got pizza at the Italian Food Center booth and it was delicious–creamy mozzarella, nice crust and tasty sauce.