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What to Eat at the San Gennaro Festival

There are few New York street festivals more epic than San Gennaro, now in its 87th year in Little Italy. The annual 11-day event takes place on and around a long stretch of Mulberry Street, and has all you’d expect from a street fair: Ferris wheels and carnival games, concert stages and huge stuffed teddy bears … and, of course, plenty of Italian food.

While you’ll find plenty of the greasy sausage sandwiches and pizza slices that festivals like this demand, San Gennaro has started to include offerings from more modern vendors, too. Here are six San Gennaro stalls shouldn’t miss.

San Gennaro Festival

San Gennaro Festival (Photo: Yourdon/Flickr CC)

Torrisi, Carbone, Parm, et al.: The Torrisi group is tailor-made for San Gennaro, as its restaurants recall multiple elements of Italian-American cuisine. Carbone is a reboot of a classic New York supper club, Parm a killer hero shop, and it, along with the flagship Torrisi Italian Specialties, both sit right on Mulberry Street. The restaurant group’s can’t-miss stand between Prince and Spring streets has been, for the last few years, the culinary highlight of the event. This year, look for the Calabrian chili dog (topped with Calabrian chili-infused Sunday gravy, chopped B&G Peppers, fried onions and parmesan cheese), eggplant Parm sticks (taking eggplant Parmesan and rethinking it as a mozzarella stick), and more.

Stuffed Artisan Cannoli: Plenty of other stalls will give you limp-shelled cannoli that look like they’ve been sitting around all day. But Stuffed Artisan Cannoli takes the pastry seriously and puts a modern twist on the traditional Italian dessert with unusual flavors. Its stands will be selling macarons from Macaron Parlor as well. Two locations, between Kenmare and Broome streets, and between Spring and Prince streets make it an easy grab-and-go.

Ciao Bella: Does Italy have any finer foodstuff than gelato? Don’t miss the kiosk from the much-loved gelato brand, between Houston and Prince streets.

Mulberry Project: Though best known as an underground bespoke cocktail bar, Mulberry Project will be showcasing its food offerings under chef Carmine Di Giovanni at San Gennaro, including Pizza Fritte: it’ll be frying up pizza dough right at the stand and finishing with marinara sauce and Pecorino Romano. Look for the stand in front of the bar, between Hester and Grand streets.

Arancini Bros: The classic fried rice balls from this Bushwick shop are famous for their unique fillings, which give a modern slant to the dish. At San Gennaro, they’ll be selling meat-mozzarella ragu, pesto-mozzarella bianco verde, Buffalo chicken and Nutella.

Rubirosa: Look for a number of different pizza options from this excellent Italian-American restaurant, from a stall outside its venue between Spring and Prince streets.

All the Rest: Let’s be honest: It’s hard to resist sausage-and-peppers or a fried Oreo, so if you must, a few tips. Browse before you commit; don’t jump at the first good-looking sandwich when there are blocks’ worth of stalls from which to choose. Lastly, anytime you’re getting fried food, ask for it fresh out of the deep-fryer. Any self-respecting fry cook should help you out. (And if you hear a ‘no,’ head to the next stand.)

Thursday, Sept. 12, through Sunday, Sept. 22, 2013; Mulberry Street between Houston and Canal streets

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