As Little Italy’s most famous festival, the Feast of San Gennaro turns Mulberry Street into a madhouse. Unlike most street festivals, where a visitor can expect to stroll along a wide avenue, pick up a lemon ice and browse racks of jewelry, no one was kidding when they named San Gennaro a “feast”—there is no jewelry to be had here, and no one comes looking for it, either!
The Italian restaurants on the block set up tented booths on the street, dishing everything from a bougie $2 slider to one of the biggest sweet sausages covered in sauteed onions and peppers for $5.
The streets are packed with people, and on top of that, the street carts peddling sausages and brachiole often take up half the street. If you leave without smelling like sausage, you missed three-quarters of the fun! (It just so happens that I signed a lease on a new apartment on one of the San Gennaro-populated blocks of Mulberry Street and moved in just two weeks before the madness.)
So what is there to do at San Gennaro? EAT. Unlike the refined Oysterfest, which overlapped with one weekend of San Gennaro this year, you won’t see the young and beautiful attending. Instead, you’ll see a few lost foreigners, an abundance of New Jerseyans with distant ties to Italy, and more bearded men with beer bellies than you thought lived in New England.
There is no alcohol served at San Gennaro, so if you purchase one of the three-foot-tall daiquiris, bring your own flask of rum to spike it. But the bubble tea, cakes, pies, and deep-fried Twinkies aren’t the reason to make your way to San Gennaro. Nor are the high-class dining options offered by some of the notable restaurants on the block, like Rubirosa and Torrisi. No. Instead, opt for the less expensive (and much tastier) sweet Italian sausage with sauteed onions and peppers. You’ll dream about it for two weeks—luckily San Gennaro lasts that long.
–Tara for TKGO
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