The Street Food of the 2010 San Gennaro Festival, NYC — A Visitor’s Guide


Patron saint of Naples, San Gennaro casts his eyes heavenward, in despair over the preponderance of fried food at his festival.

San Gennaro (English: Saint Januarius) is the patron saint of Naples, Italy, a Catholic bishop who was martyred in the Diocletianic Persecution of 305. The festival was founded by four immigrant families from Naples in 1924 on the block of Mulberry Street between Hester and Grand, making this the 86th annual festival.

The festival now extends eight blocks, from Houston Street to Canal Street, and features festival food indigenous to Campania, Italy, including zeppole (dough fritters dipped in powdered sugar), sausages served with peppers and onions (the sandwich part was invented in America), braccioli (pork or beef, usually wrapped around an herbed cheese filling), grilled sweetbreads (thymus gland), and various Italian-American pastas and pizzas. Newer additions to the menu include deep-fried Oreo cookies and funnel cakes.

Following are pictures taken just before midnight on Friday evening, the second night of the festival, which runs through Sunday, September 26, every day from noon till midnight. On the final Sunday, celebrants carry the shrine to San Gennaro through the streets of Little Italy.

Coils of sweet and hot pork sausage — a specialty of southern Italy — crowd sauteed onions and peppers on the griddle.

Preparing a sausage-and-pepper hero.

Seek out the vendors that cook the sausages and braccioli over charcoal.

At midnight on a Friday, the eight blocks of Mulberry Street are still thronged.


The zeppole vendor tosses a handful of the fried dough balls into a brown paper sack and sprinkles in powdered sugar; calzones on the right.

Little Italy restaurants roll out the sidewalk tables in little corraled areas for the festival.

Festivalgoers pin dollar bills to ribbons that stream from the image of San Gennaro as an act of charity.

Philly cheesesteaks are another recent addition to the festival menu.

Carny games are another popular attraction.

Fried, fried, and more fried …

Of the 300 vendors, nearly a fifth sell sausages, the most popular festival foodstuff.

After midnight, the crowds begin to disperse.

The saint’s festival even features a freak show.