Once every year, Little Italy gets to take back a little bit more of what they lost. With Chinatown creeping in to the few streets that make up this once thriving Italian neighborhood, San Gennaro is a time that Little Italy gets to have Mulberry all to itself. Yes, there are tons of tourists, and yes you will find the generic carnival food of zeppoles and fried Oreos (which are fantastic by the way). But, in between the crowds and thousands of cannolis, lies something much, much better.
Many restaurants have stepped up their game and brought new offerings to the Feast. The Torrisi Brothers’ Parm has taken their restaurant to the street and is offering up a Feast-only menu right outside of their restaurant. The menu at Parm takes in their Italian roots, but spices it up with some Asian inspiration with Chinese Ribs and the FuggedaBAOdit sandwich. Made with juicy Italian sausage, spicy mayo on a steamed Chinese bun, you wouldn’t think this was made by a bunch of Italian guys. The sausage on the sandwich was juicy and right off the grill, and paired well with the spicy mayo.
The best item on the menu, and at the entire festival, was by far the Eggplant Parmesan Sticks. These alone are worth the trek, especially since they’re at a limited time offering. The sticks are double-layered with fried eggplant, marinara sauce, and mozzarella cheese, and fried to gooey perfection.The marinara dipping sauce on the side complements the already delicious sticks. Just as a warning, it will be hard not to go back for more.
Further down the street sits Rubirosa’s, who have impressively brought out a full brick oven to serve up their personal pizzas on the street. Their menu features a variety of pizzas to choose from, which are handcrafted and served straight from the street brick oven. The fresh ingredients and homemade sauces add a delicious change to the usual street pizza offered every year.
Another restaurant breaking away from the usual offerings of the festival is Slide, bringing their specialty sliders to the festival from their main outpost on Bleecker Street. Their menu focuses on their main types of sliders and includes the classic hamburger, chicken and meatball parm and italian sausage. The meatball parm slider was exactly what you would expect, and comes in a perfect size for sampling. The side items on the menu include fresh figs stuffed with prosciutto and bacon, and bleu cheese truffle fries.The fries are double battered, tossed with truffle oil and crumbled with creamy bleu cheese, and are the standout on the menu.
Whether you want to walk through the entire festival or hit specific stands to avoid the crowds, go and give San Gennaro a try. The Feast might not be at the top of your “Have to Get There” list, but there are reasons to head down to Mulberry Street this year for some delicious Italian grub. After all, the best way to experience the Italian culture is through the stomach, and the Feast does just that.
The Feast of San Gennaro
Mulberry Street, Little Italy
From now until September 22nd