Tag Archives: Feast of San Gennaro

Little Italy Isn’t Dead: Most Precious Blood Church

Periodically, there’s an article about how Little Italy is dead or dying. Yes, it’s more of a tourist destination and less of a neighborhood where Italian people live. There are still some Italians there, and there are Italian-American-owned businesses there. A recent article in the New York Times made me want to write a series on Little Italy Isn’t Dead and feature some of the businesses there.

Most Precious Blood Church

In 1891, the first part of the Most Precious Blood Church was built by the Scalabrini Fathers and later the Franciscans, who took over funding. It served the local Italian-immigrant community. Mulberry Street became home to immigrants from Naples who celebrated that city’s patron saint, San Gennaro. Most Precious Blood Church is the National Shrine of San Gennaro, and this is the site of the San Gennaro festival that occurs each September.

The church has a mass and the procession of the saint’s statue begins from the church’s front entrance on Baxter Street. There is also a shrine to San Gennaro inside as well as a beautiful grotto.

Another entrance is on Mulberry Street as well as a courtyard where you can pin a dollar on the statue of San Gennaro during the festival. Now, the church has masses in English and Vietnamese.

–Dina Di Maio, author of Authentic Italian: The Real Story of Italy’s Food and Its People, available at Amazon.com

***All writings and photographs are the intellectual property of me, unless I’ve noted otherwise, and can only be used with permission. If you are inspired by this blog, please use professional courtesy to note it.***

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Top 10 Foods to Get at NYC’s San Gennaro Festival

This list of top 10 foods to get at NYC’s San Gennaro Festival in Little Italy is the definitive guide to the traditional foods eaten by Italian Americans.

1. If you try nothing else at the San Gennaro festival, you have to try cannoli.

La Bella Ferrara cannoli

Where to get cannoli:  the legendary Ferrara on Grand Street and Mulberry, La Bella Ferrara on Mulberry, Caffe Palermo on Mulberry, Caffe Roma corner of Mulberry and Broome.

2. Sausage and peppers sandwiches–When Italians go to festivals, this is what they get.

Where to get sausage and peppers–at a stand.

3.  Zeppole are fried dough balls in powdered sugar–a staple of Italian festivals.

Where to get zeppole–at a stand.

4.  Clams

Where to get clams–at a stand, Umberto’s Clam House on Mulberry.

5.  Pizza/calzones

Where to get pizza/calzones–Sal’s on Broome Street (the fried calzone is to die for!), the first pizzeria in America–Lombardi’s on Spring Street.

6.  Torrone–Italian nutty nougat confection

Where to get torrone–at a stand or at Ferrara on Grand.

7.  Italian cookies

Where to get Italian cookies–the legendary Ferrara on Grand, La Bella Ferrara on Mulberry, at a stand.

8.  Gelato

Where to get gelato–Ferrara on Grand, Caffe Roma on Broome, Mo on Mulberry.

9.  Pasta

Where to get pasta–Puglia on Hester, Vincent’s on Hester/Mott, Angelo’s of Mulberry Street, Benito One on Mulberry.

10. Italian pastries

Where to get Italian pastries–the legendary Ferrara on Grand Street and Mulberry, La Bella Ferrara on Mulberry, Caffe Palermo on Mulberry, Caffe Roma corner of Mulberry and Broome.

–Dina Di Maio, author of Authentic Italian: The Real Story of Italy’s Food and Its People, available at Amazon.com

***All writings and photographs are the intellectual property of me, unless I’ve noted otherwise, and can only be used with permission. If you are inspired by this blog, please use professional courtesy to note it.***

San Gennaro Festival 2013

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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.

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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.

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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.

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The church also has other lovely statues and a beautiful grotto as well.

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Outside the church on Mulberry Street, you can pin a dollar bill to the statue of San Gennaro as well as purchase religious articles.

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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.

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Caffe Palermo advertises the best cannoli, and it’s good.

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This year’s grand marshals were former New York governor Mario Cuomo and his wife, Matilda, and

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a special appearance by honored guest, wrestler Bruno Sammartino.

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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,

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zeppole, clams, cannoli, gelato and ices, cookies, torrone, calzones, pizza and more.

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This year, knockoff “cronuts,” or croissant doughnuts made an appearance.  I got a cannoli-flavored one.

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It was good–the cannoli cream was really good.  It tasted like a cannoli cream-filled cinnamon doughnut.

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At street fairs, I always get zeppole.  They were yummy.

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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.

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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.

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Or try the fried calzones at Little Italy’s restaurant Sal’s on Broome Street.

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And the pizza there is perfect New York-style.

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I also got pizza at the Italian Food Center booth and it was delicious–creamy mozzarella, nice crust and tasty sauce.

delicious pizza with creamy mozzarella from Italian Food Center on Mulberry Street