Despite some opposition in recent years, Little Italy's religious-fest-turned-tourist-trap Feast of San Gennaro Festival returns to the nabe this week, bringing with it the aromas of fried funnel cakes and pedestrian congestion. From September 12th through 22nd, the streets of the historic neighborhood will be crammed with tchotchke vendors, exuberant Europeans and "pina colada" stands. It's not the kind of event a real New Yorker would be caught dead at, but there are a few noteworthy food options for this year's incarnation.
City Grit maven Sarah Simmons partners with Missy Robbins (A Voce) for a five-course Italian extravaganza. Robbins' cut her teeth in Northern Italy, perfecting the cuisine of the region and beyond, and her restaurant earned a Michelin star. An $85 ticket gets you entrance to the feast, which unfolds at 38 Prince Street on Thursday, September 12th at 7:30 p.m.
Each year the Cannoli Eating Contest pits professional eaters against one another to see who can eat the most cannoli in a six minute time period. They'll be going at it again this year on Opening Day September 12th from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. and once again they're getting the desserts from John DeLutro's Caffe Palermo. DeLutro is also premiering his Walnoli, a cannoli cream-stuffed dough that's shaped like a walnut. “I came up with them after reading about cronuts," he explained to the Daily News
Caffe Palermo isn't the only participant riffing on the year's most hyped pastry. Enrico’s bakeries are offering up Jolie's Kronies, a straight up fauxnut in Nutella and hazelnut, raspberry and vanilla cream and mango with toasted coconut flavors. They're also doing a Cannoli Cronut stuffed with cannoli cream because of course they are.
There's no shortage of meatballs at the festival, but keep your eyes open for the SLIDE restaurant booth, which will be throwing the little orbs of meat onto slider buns for maximum portability. They're also doing chicken parm sliders, an Italian Slider—ground veal and ground sausage, topped with kalamata olive tapanade, buffalo mozzarella, plum tomato and arugula—and fries with gravy and mozzarella cheese from Little Italy's Di Palo. On the somewhat lighter side, figs stuffed with Gorgonzola with crispy prosciutto and an heirloom tomato caprese salad with Di Palo mozzarella are also on offer. Finally, save room for Nutella-Strawberry-Banana Fried Ravioli.
In case you missed it, here's a classic San Gennaro moment from 2010: