Tag Archives: San Gennaro Festival

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

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San Gennaro Festival 2016

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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.

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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

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.)

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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.

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Street vendors sell everything from American food to fair festival food like roasted corn,

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to pizza and cannoli

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to Italian tchotchkes

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to traditional Italian foods like these Italian cookies, taralli, mostaccioli and biscotti.

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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.

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For dessert, some cassata and coffee at Caffe Palermo.

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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

Two for Tuesday: San Gennaro Cannoli

This week’s Two for Tuesday celebrates the San Gennaro Festival in NYC’s Little Italy.  The contenders are two of the remaining pastry shops in the area:  Ferrara, family owned since 1892, is the famous pastry shop located on Grand Street, and La Bella Ferrara is located on Mulberry Street near Canal Street.  If you’re never been to the former, you must go and just look.  Look at the pastry case in all its beauty–the colors, the glazes, the dollops of cream.  I have heard, though I am not sure, that these bakeries are in the same family and there may be a family feud.  I don’t know if that’s true or not, and I certainly think they both have great items.  The cookies at La Bella are delicious.  The smell in there alone is divine!

I got a cannoli from Ferrara:

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and from La Bella Ferrara:

La Bella Ferrara

First, the shell. I like the color of La Bella’s and it had the right crunch. I do think I tasted cinnamon in there, which I don’t think should be in a cannoli.  Ferrara’s cannoli shell had a more familiar taste and was crunchy as well.  Both of these cannoli were filled when I bought them, and they must be filling them each day, as they were fresh.  Sometimes when you see a pre-filled cannoli, it’s a sign that the shell will be soggy.

Second, the filling.  I preferred Ferrara’s filling.  It had more of a ricotta flavor and was a tad more creamy.

Both cannoli were very good and worth trying at this week’s San Gennaro Festival.  There are many great cannoli in NYC and more than just these two to try at the feast.  Both of these bakeries also have many other delicious cookies, pastries and desserts as well.  I don’t think you can go wrong with a stop at either bakery.