Get there early
The feast starts to get crowded at 6 p.m., so get there on the early side.
Umbrella drinks for all!
Note: we don't actually recommend these.
Rubirosa is selling wood-fired pizza cooked to order
The pizzas are 9-inch or so personal pies with thin, light crusts. Despite their lightness, they don't turn crackery; they stay pliant and pleasantly chewy.
Sausage and Broccoli Rabe Pie from Rubirosa ($9)
Bright, bitter rabe, crisp-around-the-edges sausage, and plenty of Rubirosa's awesome homemade mozzarella.
Torrisi Italian Specialties and Parm
Chinese Takeout Ribs from Torrisi ($8)
These sweet, sticky grilled ribs from Torrisi (a playful acknowledgement of the tenuous boundaries between Chinatown and Little Italy) are even better than last year's. They're meatier, porkier, and have lots of rib tip bits to gnaw on.
Ed in rib bliss
Deli Dog from Parm ($9)
"We liked the idea of wrapping a kosher hot dog in pork and cheese," say the Torrisi boys of this Hebrew National hot dog that gets the Italian Combo treatment. The grilled dog is wrapped in sopressata, genoa salami, pepperoni, and provolone. It then gets topped with pickled deli peppers, lettuce, tomato, a spicy purée of caramelized onion, tomato, and eggplant, and an oil-and-vinegar Italian dressing to top it all off. It's impossible to actually take a bite of the whole thing, but the last time I had so much fun eating a hot dog was when I lived in Chicago. I probably have the peppers to thank for that.
Fuggedabaodit from Torrisi ($9)
Two fluffy, slightly sweet Chinese buns stuffed with sausage patties, crunchy pickled fennel, a black pepper agrodolce, and a spicy mayo. We've tasted plenty of hipster bao in our day, but these are smarter and tastier than most of them. The pickled fennel helps a lot, some crunch against all the sweet, starch, and meat. Plus it makes the whole thing taste—oddly—more Italian.
Godfather Grilled Cheese from Torrisi ($9)
A grilled cheese made with garlic bread? Yes, yes please. It's filled with gooey homemade mozz, fresh tomato, and basil.
Tobasco Tots from Torrisi ($6)
Tater Tots are even better when dusted with a barbecue spice rub (smoked paprika, dehydrated tomato, and more) and topped with a punchy but balanced Tobasco mayo.
Brats in a Blanket from Torrisi ($9)
Little chunks of bratwurst are dipped in polenta batter and fried, corn dog style. The batter is light and a hair sweet, the brats mild but plenty porky. The mustard drizzle has pickle relish and turmeric for added punch.
Ice Cream Sundae from Torrisi ($10)
Hefty scoops of chocolate, pistachio, and strawberry gelato stuffed into a Yankee cap bowl, topped with Reddi Whip, chocolate syrup, sprinkles, and a maraschino cherry. "It's the feast of San Gennaro," they explained. "You gotta use Reddi Whip." Or take Robyn''s word for it: "Everything tastes better when it's in a novelty cup and covered with rainbow sprinkles!"
That said, it's really good ice cream—intensely flavored, lush, and dense. The strawberry comes with lots of crunchy seeds.
Ribs on the grill
Mulberry Street Bar
You can also find pizza from Mulberry Street Bar. It's heftier stuff than Rubirosa's, and not made to order, but it's just the thing to get you into the carnie spirit.
And when you're done, you can try to win these bananas at one of the carnival games.