We went to the San Gennaro Italian festival to report on the food today. We were lured by the promise of sausage sandwiches, stuffed artichokes, pizza, cannoli, pasta, ravioli and other Italian delights. Being an Italian from back east, it sounded like a great way to spend a Friday afternoon.
After paying $14 (with a coupon) for two people just to enter the gate, we made a beeline to the food booths. The banners above the two dozen or so colorful booths advertised all that we came to taste. One problem though, only three booths were actually serving food. Apparently, the food vendors didn’t get the memo about the gates opening at 4:00PM.
We headed for one of the booths that actually had someone working in it and ordered a slice of pizza. The man took a pizza box out of one of those thermal bags pizza guys use to keep home delivery pizza hot in transit, and slapped a $4.00 piece on a plate. It was bad. Really, REALLY bad. OK, well, then on to the second place that sort of looked like they might be serving food. We spotted a booth that had workers in it and placed an order for rice balls (arancini), those big plump balls of rice, as big as an orange, filled with meat and deep-fried. For $7.00 I was handed a mini-sized plate with four thimble-sized things that were washed down with a lukewarm bottle of water ($2.00). We think they were pretty good, but there wasn’t enough to pass fair judgment.
Not far away was the booth I was hoping to find. They were selling stuffed artichokes. Thinking I could charm one of the women into telling me how long it would be until they were serving food, I approached the counter. Bad move. All it took to send me running away as fast as I could was the screech owl voice of the lady informing me that, “we ain’t serving no food yet”.
By this time I was beginning to lose my appetite from the heat (we are in the middle of a desert after all). Lucky me, a worker was removing a trash bag from a 50 gallon trash can. The bottom fell out and many gallons of an unidentifiable orange colored, liquidy mass that I suspect was used cooking grease from the night before, spilled out onto the sidewalk in front of us. I say lucky, because that’s pretty much when we decided to leave the festival.
On the way out of the festival that had very little in the way of festivities, we did spot a lady selling Cajun shrimp and a booth selling Thai food, both something I seek out when I head for an Italian festival (sarcasm alert). Those of you who follow this blog know that it takes a lot for me to post a negative review. I don’t want to paint a glum picture of the festival. There was a booth demonstrating Sham Wow cleaning cloths (as seen on TV!). That’s festive.
I’m not sure what that $14 entry fee was supposed to get us since the carnival rides require an additional $25 ticket. Moral of the story, if you decide to go to the San Gennaro Italian Festival this year, try going much later in the evening. If you spot one of those stuffed artichokes, let me know how it was. And take plenty of cash.
San Gennaro Feast, Sept. 11 – 16, 2012
Tuesday Sept. 11- 4pm to 11pm
Wednesday Sept. 12- 4pm to 11pm
Thursday Sept. 13 – 4pm to 11pm
Friday Sept. 14 – 4pm to Midnight
Saturday Sept. 15 – 11am to Midnight
Sunday Sept. 16 – 11am to 10pm