The Feast of San Gennaro takes place every year in Little Italy during the last 2 weeks of September. San Gennaro is the Patron Saint of Naples and the Italian immigrants in NYC began the festival in 1926 to celebrate their homeland. Technically, San Gennaro’s feast day is September 19 so you can expect the festival to take place around then. Normally, there wouldn’t really be much to say about this street fair because the food is not so great anymore (sort of like Little Italy itself). However, thanks to Torrisi the past 2 years have brought out some really stellar vendors and chefs.
Torrisi has 2 tents set up outside their restaurant on Mulberry Street where they’ve invited chefs from The Breslin, Stellina, Rubirosa, Byggyz, Little Wisco, and L’Artusi to create a street food/snack for the event. I had to check it out. The first time I went they were still setting up and the only thing available was the braciole sandwich from Rubirosa. It’s a bit on the small side but that’s okay because you don’t want to fill up on one dish anyway. The braciole is incredibly tender and the tomato sauce is bright, which helps lighten up the heavy meat. There’s a piece of basil and a thin slice of Parmigiano to round it out.
After finishing the braciole I didn’t intend on continuing to eat but on my walk back to my office I passed Brooklyn Bangers where a guy was talking about the homemade sausages. I was intrigued. He talked to me for a bit, told me the sausages came from The Vanderbilt in Brooklyn. He then proceeded to tell me the hot dog was the best hot dog ever. I like to think of myself as a hot dog aficionado so needless to say I had to try it. Wow. It comes with a mustard relish, which was perfect. I’m not the type of person who likes a whole slew of toppings on my dog but some relish and mustard are always welcome and this stuff was legendary. I would have swapped all the other food I tried at the festival to just eat this hot dog over and over again.
I had read about the Byggyz sandwiches on NYMag and knew I had to try it. Created by Dewey and Wylie Dufresne? Braised short ribs with pickled vegetables? I mean, c’mon, it sounded like a winner. Even better, when I arrived there on Saturday with Jackie and Dave, Wylie was manning the tent and answered our questions while serving us up 3 sandwiches. Awesome. The sandwich was packed with flavor. The pickled vegetables just really kicked it up a notch and the hot peppers added a good kick. The whole thing came together perfectly. However, after eating it, I didn’t even want to look at other food. It sat in my stomach like a lead weight. I wouldn’t take back a single bite but don’t expect to eat much else after consuming this beast of a sandwich.
There are of course plenty of stands selling sausage and peppers, zeppole, pizza, cannolis and all of the standard fare. Sometimes nothing hits the spot more than a sandwich with sausage and broccoli rabe but if you want to be wowed then head north of Broome Street to find the more unique stands.