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.
Posted in America, Festival, History, Italian, Local, New York
Tagged Feast of San Gennaro, Little Italy, Most Precious Blood Church, Mulberry Street, New York, New York City, NYC, San Gennaro
New Yorkers are a resilient bunch with much pride in their city. The bombing in Chelsea on September 17 would not deter them from carrying on. The bombing occurred only two days into the ten-day San Gennaro Festival in Little Italy, but it didn’t keep the crowds from coming. That’s good because it’s an important year for the festival–its 90th anniversary.
September 19 is the feast day of San Gennaro and that is the day organizers celebrated with a mass and procession from the doors of the Most Precious Blood Church on Baxter Street around Canal Street and up through Mulberry Street.
Most Precious Blood Church
This year’s grand marshal was Joe Causi. A Bronx Tale‘s Chazz Palminteri also made an appearance at the festival. (Tony Danza was the grand marshal of the parade last year, but this year, I had my second run-in with the actor. I was shopping in Alleva Dairy, the country’s oldest Italian cheese store, when a man said, “Excuse me, ma’am,” and brushed past me. It was Tony. Years ago, I ran into him on Bleecker Street and I asked for a photo to which he rudely said no.)
Before Mass, I pinned a dollar on the statue of San Gennaro and got a pamphlet about him as well as a pin and prayer card. Inside the church, there is a large presepio (Nativity scene) from Naples on display.
Street vendors sell everything from American food to fair festival food like roasted corn,
to pizza and cannoli
to Italian tchotchkes
to traditional Italian foods like these Italian cookies, taralli, mostaccioli and biscotti.
I ate at Sal’s Pizza on Broome near Mulberry for pizza, sausage and broccoli rape. At Sal’s, you get a side order of pasta with your entree, the traditional way.
For dessert, some cassata and coffee at Caffe Palermo.
Posted in America, Cannoli, Fair, Festival, Italian, New York, News, Pasta, Pizza, Restaurant
Tagged biscotti, Caffe Palermo, cannoli, festival, Little Italy, Most Precious Blood Church, Mulberry Street, New York, New York City, pizza, presepio, procession, Sal's Pizza, San Gennaro, San Gennaro Festival, taralli