Eat and Drink San Gennaro Festival: Iconic eats to celebrate the feast By amny.com staff Updated September 9, 2019 3:19 PM Print Share fbShare Tweet Email The San Gennaro festival, which takes place Sept. 12 to 22, celebrates the culture of Italian immigrants with parades, religious processions and (of course) plenty of food. The celebration, now in its 93rd year, is hosted by the Society of San Gennaro, a nonprofit organization that supports early Italian immigrant culture and faith. The feast will feature live music, plus annual cannoli-eating (Sept. 13), zeppole-eating (Sept. 18) and meatball-eating (Sept. 21) competitions. Vendors representing local Italian restaurants and bakeries are always in attendance, lining the streets of Little Italy in Manhattan with plenty of delicious bites to choose from. “Basically, any kind of Italian food there is, you’ll find it at the feast," said John Fratta, a longtime board member of the Society of San Gennaro, whose great-grandfather was the group's first president. You can’t go wrong with anything offered at the festival, but we've rounded up the dishes that should top your list when you head to Mulberry Street. Cannoli Photo Credit: Getty Images / Mario Tama Perhaps the most iconic treat to enjoy at San Gennaro is this Italian dessert. Cream-filled to perfection, cannoli will be everywhere at the festival -- including the competitive eating contest held on Sept. 13. For an original recipe to this classic treat, head to Ferrara Bakery and Café at 195 Grand St., serving cannoli in Little Italy since 1892. Torrone Photo Credit: iStock Torrone candy is one of the traditional specialties you can still find at the feast, if you know where to look. The Fratta family (Danny and John Fratta) have been setting up shop at the corner of Mulberry and Grand streets during the feast for at least the last 89 years. While the treats they serve at each of their stands have changed over the years, Danny Fratta, 39, says he still sells torrone candy, just as his great-grandmother Antoinette Sabatino did many years ago. "We are one of the only stands left to sell torrone, an Italian nougat candy that's hard to find these days. You chop it with a hammer and a knife," he explains. The specialty, made of sugar, egg whites and honey, is often stuffed with almonds, pistachios or other mixed nuts. "That's something really rare that you really don't see anymore at the feast that we keep." Pasta (any pasta) Photo Credit: Getty Images/Spencer Platt Get your carb fix by the plate at the festival, where multiple vendors will be dishing out their pasta specialties street-side. Whether it's frutta di mare (like this dish from Grotta Azzurra) or a classic Bolognese, you'll be able to find the perfect pasta preparation for you. Lombardi's (32 Spring St.), Umbertos Clam House (132 Mulberry St.) and Capri (145 Mulberry St.) are among the notable spots that'll be serving up dishes during the feast. Cheese (specifically mozzarella) Photo Credit: Getty Images for NYCWFF/Neilson Barnard Nothing is quite as perfect as fresh, homemade mozzarella, and vendors at San Gennaro will be providing guests with this delicious cheese. Head to the DiPalo's stand at the fest, where their fresh mozzarella and other cheese varieties have been wowing New Yorkers since 1925. Alleva Dairy, est. 1892, also sets up a booth on Mulberry Street where you can try multiple cheese varieties, plus sausage and peppers. Calzone Photo Credit: iStock Give pizza's stepbrother a chance at this year's festival. The calzone's doughy interior is stuffed with ricotta and other fillings; sometimes it's baked, other times fried. Meatballs Photo Credit: Getty Images / Bryan Bedder / Stringer Meatballs don't always have to be served on a plate of spaghetti. Vendors will be whipping up thousands of this Italian staple for festival-goers to enjoy. Sausage and peppers Photo Credit: Jeff Bachner The smell of this quintessential Italian-American dish hits you as soon as you turn on to Mulberry Street, where vendors are frying their sausages, peppers and onions on expansive griddles. Succumb to your taste for a greasy sandwich stuffed with all that grilled goodness. Anything fried Photo Credit: iStock Fried dishes are a must at any street festival. The specialties at San Gennaro include mozzarella sticks, arancini, or rice balls, and zeppoles (deep fried dough topped with powdered sugar). By amny.com staff Share on Facebook Share on Twitter More on this topic All you need to know about the Feast of San GennaroThe yearly Italian feast is back with a new zeppole-eating contest. Fabled Feast of San Gennaro returnsThe annual event returns on Thursday and for 11 days, and the clocks will wind back to a time when Little Italy was a major hub of Italian life in New York City. A peek into the San Gennaro festival's pastThis year marks the 93rd anniversary of the event that brings more than two million cannoli-craving tourists and locals to Manhattan. 7 tasty alternatives to the San Gennaro crowdsOutside of Little Italy, head to a 125-year-old pastry shop or fashion-minded restaurant. Comments We're revamping our Comments section. Learn more and share your input.