Out-of-towners and locals get psyched for the annual Feast of San Gennaro, and for good reason: the event includes the best spots in Little Italy. Eat at some of the best Italian restaurants in the city, watch colorful parades, catch free concerts and of course, see the world-famous cannoli eating competition.
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What is the Feast of San Gennaro?
Although the Feast of San Gennaro is a celebration of faith (folks tip their hats to the Patron Saint of Naples, Italy) the festive atmosphere, delicious food and colorful processions are what it’s known for. For 11 days, Little Italy is transformed into a red, white and green bash with special guests, live music and a cannoli eating contest.
When is the Feast of San Gennaro?
The Feast of San Gennaro 2020 is canceled. The feast usually runs for 11 days in September.
But instead, while the official San Gennaro feast is canceled along with all festivals and fairs in New York, Gelso & Grand is throwing a San Gennaro-inspired feast in Little Italy this year. The pop-up roster is stacked with some of NYC’s favorite Italian restaurants, including Don Angie’s lasagna, Di Fara’s pizza slices, Regina Grocery’s arancini, Belle’s Cafe’s rainbow cookies and Morgenstern's spumoni ice cream.
Where is the Feast of San Gennaro?
The Feast of San Gennaro is located along Mulberry Street between Canal and Houston Streets. The festival stage is located on the corner of Grand and Motts Sts and features live entertainment starting at 7:30pm each night.
What is the cannoli-eating contest?
Brave contestants square off with mountains of cannolis from Ferrara Bakery.
In depth on the Feast of San Gennaro:
Every September since 1926, in honor of the patron saint of Naples, the air in Little Italy becomes thick with the scents of smoky sausage-and-pepper sandos and fried dough. More than a million people come to stroll the strip of vendors, enjoying Italia in the form of crispy cannoli and zeppole. After almost a century of practice, the feast’s merrymakers know how to party with food in hand.
Baccalà dons the sash
You can’t have a festival without a parade—and the Grand Procession is one heck of a parade. Grand Marshal Steve Schirripa (The Sopranos, Blue Bloods) will lead the festivities, which feature marching bands, floats, revelers and, most significantly, the statue of San Gennaro.
As Little Italy has grown littler and less Italy-er, many Italian-American families have moved away from the neighborhood, but they still consider this fest a homecoming: You can always expect a massive showing of dedicated Staten Islanders returning to Manhattan to enjoy the provisions and work the stands with élan.
The most important question is also tricky to answer: Which vendor deserves the first bite? Lucy’s Palace, one of the most popular stalls, crafts worth-the-wait sausage-and-pepper sandwiches. Serving cheesy and meat-filled Italian egg rolls, Roll Up is not afraid of deep-frying its delights until super crispy. Alleva Dairy, the oldest cheese shop in the U.S., will provide eggplant, chicken and meatball parms for you to get your teeth around. Plus, swing by the cannoli king Caffé Palermo, which dishes out fried pastries and a unique almond-spun cheesecake cone.
Eat, for sport
Once you’re stuffed, why not marvel at some real pros as they shovel mountains of food down their throats? Swing by the inaugural Zeppole Eating Competition, sponsored by Danny on the Corner, as well as the fifth annual Meatball Eating Competition and the 22nd annual Cannoli Eating Competition, which takes place at Ferrara Bakery. If you fancy yourself a cannoli aficionado and still have room for a lot of dessert, that contest is open to the public.