September 13, 2007
New York is famous as a melting pot, having melded cultures and people for over 300 years while keeping many of its old neighborhoods intact. And from Chinatown to the Barrio, they all offer their own specialties. Little Italy, however, is one of the most famous, featuring a taste of the Mediterranean in the heart of Manhattan.
Tiny trattorias sling Bolognese that would make Mamma proud, and fresh meats and cheeses fill windows. The spirit of Little Italy is never more evident than at this time of year, when the San Gennaro Festival graces its narrow streets. The Feast of St. Gennaro, kicking off its 80th-anniversary celebration today, was a tribute to the patron saint of Naples, and today’s celebrations include a parade of the saint’s effigy amid music, food, and fun.
Never a subtle place, New York City magnifies the culture and turns this religiously founded street fair into an extravaganza of entertainment with games, vendors, and food stands. Oh, is there food! From grilled sausage sandwiches and fresh spaghetti and meatballs to cannoli and zeppole, this feast for the senses presents quite a quandary for visiting gourmands.
Overcome by the celebration of all things Italian, IgoUgo Hall of Fame member Linda Kaye simply says “Bravo, New York!” and leaves it at that. While studying at NYU, adm visited the festival and seemed to agree that it is “THE street fair in NYC.” She also provides some helpful tips on eating without paying too much and manages to get in the spirit by finding humor in the Italian-pride T-shirts sold in booths. Native New Yorker Ishtar, on the other hand, knows a thing or two about the neighborhood, even if it’s the wrong festival. She did, however, make a point to see San Gennaro in Boston; she loved it but admits that it was more “modest in its breadth” than New York’s gala.
Even if you don’t make it to Little Italy for this famous fête, britgirl7 could probably give you a few savory suggestions on where to eat in the area. And if you can’t make it to the real New York at all, this one’s festival may be close enough to seem like the real thing. Salute!