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January 21, 2008
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June 5, 2005
This will be a good page to consult when deciding what you’d like to see and when.
Let’s start downtown, around Mulberry Street and surrounds. All summer long, on Tuesdays and Thursdays, there will be live operatic performances to add to the already-drunken feeling of eating en plein air on the sidewalks of Little Italy; the streets are closed to traffic, so don’t fear. Since there are a zillion trattorias, not all of them will have the vocals, so take note of the following venues:
1. SPQR, 133 Mulberry Street 2. Il Cortile, 125 Mulberry Street 3. Caffe Palermo, 148 Mulberry Street 4. Grotta Azzurra, 177 Mulberry Street 5. Umberto’s Clam House, 386 Broome Street (Broome runs perpendicular to Mulberry; it’s the next intersection north of Grand Street. 6. La Mela, 167 Mulberry Street 7. Casa Bella, 127 Mulberry Street--to make reservations or call for more info, dial (212) 302-0551.
One of the festivals I never miss, except when I lived in California, is the Feast of San Gennaro. It’s a huge party that runs for 11 days (starting September 15th), and you’ll be eating sausages, believe me. Also, don’t miss the wonderful zeppoles, though they really don’t need to put so much confectioners sugar on them. There's live music at times and one of the popular radio rock stations, usually the Golden Oldies.
Some of the other highlights this summer include:
1. Taste of Little Italy – June 25/26, food sampling and demos by local chefs, accompanied by music.
2. Zoppe Italian National Circus – July 3 (1 pm and 3:30pm)
3. Musical Tribute to Frank Sinatra (I will not be there!) – July 9th at 2pm
4. Tastings of olive oils and cheeses – now that’s more up my alley! – July 16th at 2pm
5. Italian Authors’ Day – book-signings, August 21 at 2pm
6. Concert by Italian Youth Choir – August 27th at 2pm
and finally, don’t miss the annual Columbus Day Parade on Saturday, October 8th, at 1pm. All events are free.
Wonderful architecture will catch your eye when you’re not busy with your chewing. There are old churches, of which two of New York’s most famous are around here. They are the Old St. Patrick Church at Prince and Mott Street and the Most Precious Blood Church on Mulberry between Hester and Canal Streets. If you’d like to attend Mass there, call 212-226-6427.
From journal Start Spreadin' Duh News.....
May 31, 2005
This time of year, a portion of Mulberry Street is verboten to vehicles of any kind; local restaurants pull all the stops and spill onto the sidewalks and the street with their tables and tantalizing menus. Then there’s always music to chew your sausage links by; table settings beckon your patronage, and if not that, then the aromas will make you waver. Seated groups raise a glass, and a chorus of "salute" goes up in the air. Squeezed in between are the endless vendors, most with identical offerings, some daring to veer from the street pricing. Designer glasses? Pashminas for $5? Lots of bling for your toes and your nose, Louis Vuitton knock-offs for $25, and hip-hugging scarves at three-for-$10.
We had come for the oldies rock concert that I had spotted on CitySearch.Com. Bobby Rydell headlined, with Lou Christie in tow, and the Shangri-las were to appear as well. I asked Chuck if he thought any would be wearing toupees and dentures, showing signs of Botoxed foreheads and collagen lips. Mick Jagger doesn’t seem to mind, though, and frankly, he ought to retire.
As the festivities were to start at 2pm, I became a bit worried when nothing was being set up as late as 1:50pm. We had gone the entire length of Mulberry with no band in sight, only to learn that the concert was scheduled for two days later. Oh, heck!
Have you noticed how difficult it is these days to distinguish Little Italy from Big Chinatown? Well, as you head a couple of blocks past Grand Street, it seems that Vietnam comes into play. There could not have existed a better consolation prize for both of us than finding a Vietnamese restaurant for lunch. The bonus came in the way of a grocery store on the same block that carried Vietnamese coffee. And of course, it would not have been quite "right" had I not run into the proverbially rude salesgirl, the know-it-all wise guy, the Soprano-esque maitre d’, the hideously tattooed, and the impossibly tight jeans rendered somewhat palatable by the mouthwatering gelati from famous Ferrara.
by Linda Kaye
San Antonio, Texas
September 22, 2003
Exiting the subway on Canal Street, we walked east through China Town, which blended into Little Italy almost without notice. Approaching Mulberry Street, we saw people carrying large stuffed toys and colorful drink glasses. We knew we were close to the San Gennaro Festival.
The festival boasts that is the biggest, best know, oldest, liveliest, and longest running street party in the country. The 2003 Festival was the 76th consecutive celebration dedicated to the patron saint of Naples.
It is centered in the Little Italy section of New York City, on Mulberry Street between Canal and Houston Streets in lower Manhattan. It lasts for eleven days every September. It is all things Italian!
Who was San Gennaro?
Most of what is known about San Gennaro is folklore, but a few facts are documented. He was the Bishop of Benevento, Italy, and was beheaded in 305 AD, a martyr because of his loyalty to Christ. His body was preserved and remains to this day in Naples, Italy.
What's at the festival?
To the sounds of well-know Italian songs such as That Amore, we moved as a part of a larger mass, flowing down the street, shoulder to shoulder. On both sides of the now narrow street are food and drink booths and carnival games. The wonderful aroma of grilled sausage, onions, and peppers fill the air.
There is seafood--shrimp, fried clams, and calamari--piled high in paper containers, the perfect appetizer to occupy your mouth while moving toward the next food booth. There is garlic bread stuffed with thinly sliced beef and covered with grilled onions and peppers. And the sausage! Long coiled rings, sizzling on the grill, waiting to be made into a sandwich.
Of course, there was spaghetti and meatballs, a little hard to manage while walking around, but with practice and experience, even this can be accomplished.
Thirsty? You're in the right place: beer, pina coladas, lemonade, sodas, water, and juices are at every booth. There is no shortage of desserts--hand-dipped chocolate strawberries, Italian pastries, Zepole (sugary fried dough balls), gelati, cannolis, and Italian ices.
Restaurants along Mulberry Street moved tables and chairs onto the sidewalk, covered with colorful canopies and invited festival goers in for food and drink. And, most of the tables were occupied.
I especially enjoyed watching the children (and adults acting like children) playing the carnival games and I was delighted to see so many wining stuffed animals, the obvious choice for prizes.
There are t-shirts for sale (Life's Too Short NOT to be Italian). There is a "Big-Chair" photo booth, temporary tattoos, dunking booths, rides, and shows inside carnival tents. There was a canoli eating contest- gosh, I am sorry I missed that, and a parade.
But, by far the best part of the San Gennaro Festival is the people. Everyone having a good time, enjoying their heritage. BRAVO NEW YORK!
From journal New York City-The Power of Being There
New York, New York
September 21, 2000
From journal Bluegrass meets the Big Apple