New York City Italian Food Festivals

New York City is no doubt home to some of the most attended Italian food festivals in the U.S., these festivals grace the streets of NYC for few months every year. During these period your nostrils are likely to savor the aromas of wood-fired pizza, fried calamari, pasta sauces, and sizzling sausage.

Every food lover deserve to enjoy these festivals and we want you to have an experienced at least one NYC Italian food festival. This is why we have compiled this guide to introduce you to NYC’s Italian food festivals.

Importance of Italian Food in NYC

Italian cuisine is a key cultural fabric to the Big Apple, its as important as the Statue of Liberty. New York City has the largest population of Italian Americans in the U.S., some of the most famous Italian chefs are performing their craft or once performed their craft in NYC. This should explain why NYC hosts some amazing Italian food festivals each year.

Introduction to the Italian Food Festivals

Let’s start by talking about why do we have Italian food festivals. Italian cuisine comes from a lengthy line of households recipes, regional delicacies, individual contributions and a rich history which has evolved and impacted the world. The impact Italian cuisine has on the world certainly has to be celebrated and these festivals are a great way to celebrate Italian cuisine.

NYC Italian food festivals are a wonderful way to get to know New York City. The energy of the city, the lovely community, and the authentic cuisine are all desirable so make sure you visit these festivals for a taste of la dolce vita in NYC.

Italian Festival in NYC
Famous vendor at Italian festival in NYC


What Are Some New York City Italian Food Festivals?

There are multiple NYC Italian food festivals you could attend, we would break them down here to help you get a clear understanding of every major food festival in NYC. Here is a comprehensive list of Italian food festivals held throughout the year.

Annual Feast of San Gennaro

The first festival on the list is NYC’s oldest and largest Italian food festival, the Feast of San Gennaro. You may be familiar with this ancient festival. Held in September in Little Italy, Manhattan, this 11-day festival celebrates the patron saint of Naples. 2023’s festival is scheduled for 14th to 24th September. For 11 days you’ll find carnival games, live music, parades and most importantly, lots of amazing Italian food at Mulberry Street.

NYC Pizza Festival

A celebration of New York-style pizza with competitions, tastings, and pizza-inspired cocktails. Pizza lovers can sample slices from dozens of pizzerias across the five boroughs. NYC Pizza Festival features films, opera, jazz all rooted with Italian culture. It is a 2-day event and just like the Taste of Little Italy festival, this festival is held every October. 2023’s edition is scheduled for October 7 and 8 at Brooklyn Bridge Park.


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The Arthur Avenue Retail Market Festival

If you want an authentic taste of Italy, head to the Bronx’s Little Italy. The Arthur Avenue Retail Market has been an institution since 1940. Their annual festival highlights local food merchants and restaurants. You can sample homemade mozzarella, prosciutto, pasta, espresso and desserts like gelato.

The Festa Italiana

Held in Brooklyn’s Jimmy Breslin Park, this family-friendly festival brings a taste of Italy to Queens. Enjoy live music and entertainment as you feast on fried zucchini flowers, arancini rice balls, porchetta sandwiches, and classic pizza and pasta.

NEW YORK, NY – SEPT 22: Little Italy on Mulberry St. during the Feast Of San Gennaro on September 22, 2013 in New York City.

Why Italian Food Festivals in NYC?

Italian food festivals in New York City attracts a lot of visitors annually. What exactly do people enjoy in these festivals?

Celebrating Italian Culture and Heritage

Italian food festivals are great places to celebrate Italian culture and Italian heritage. These festivals honor Italian culinary traditions, when you visit any Italian food festival in NYC you are going to enjoy pastas, sausages, cheeses, and wine. Whenever you attend Italian food festival in NYC you are supporting Italian cuisine and Italian cultural traditions.

Showcasing Authentic Italian Cuisine

Italian food festivals showcase the beauty of Italian regional delicacies and when you attend any of this food festival you are privileged to sample different type of Italian foods. You’ll meet wonderful local Italian chefs who are passionate about high-quality ingredients. You can learn tips and recipes to create homemade classic Italian dishes and also discover new favorites among varieties of Italian culinary delights.

Fostering Community and Tradition

Italian food festivals supports community and tradition, they are a venue for food enthusiasts to come together and bond together as they share their love for Italian food, music, and culture. Italian Americans are always proud to share their family stories and recipes with others. If you are yet to attend one do well to attend any NYC Italian food festival soon.

What Happens at New York Italian Food Festivals?

Now that you are familiar with why people attend New York Italian food festivals, what exactly happens in these festivals?

Food Tastings and Vendors

Your mouth is definitely going to do a lot of work at any New York Italian food festivals. You are going to see homemade pasta, pizza, risotto and more from vendors and food trucks who would beckon to you to taste their amazing Italian cuisine. This is a great time to note what you love and which vendor, food truck, or restaurant you might want to try again.

Live Music and Entertainment

It would be odd to be in a festival that doesn’t have live music and other forms of entertainment. Opera singers, musical groups with Italian instruments like the accordion or mandolin, and Italian folk dancers are other forms of entertainment you could enjoy. You could also have craftspeople demonstrating skills such as leather crafting or glass blowing.

Cultural Exhibitions and Demonstrations

Italian festivals also take time to educate onlookers and attendees about Italian culture, traditions, cuisine, and history. Live demonstrations of olive oil pressing, pasta making and lessons about Italian immigration to New York City, Italian innovations and other educational Italian culture topics are also talked about in this festivals.

Cooking Competitions

For aspiring Italian cooks, many festivals hold cooking competitions to showcase skills and recipes. Categories often include the best homemade pasta, pizza, tomato sauce, Italian bread, and dessert. Chefs compete for prizes and bragging rights, while attendees get to taste the delicious results. Some larger festivals even have kids’ cooking competitions to inspire the next generation of Italian cooks.

Food-Related Contests

For those who are really interested in cooking you could partake in fun food-related contents with wonderful prizes. Contents like olive oil tasting, pizza eating contests, and recipe contests are some fun food-related contests you could partake in in Italian festivals.


italian food festival nyc
Feast of San Gennaro Festival in Little Italy – New York City

How to Attend an Italian Food Festival?

Anyone who wants to experience the authenticity of Italian cuisine and culture needs to attend an Italian food festival. Below, we are going to offer tips and information to support you through your quest.

Ticketing and Admission

Buying tickets in advance is a very great way to save your money and save time from getting delayed in ticket lines. Most festivals have multi-day passes and an advance ticket sales. Visit the festival’s website and get details on admission fee to get your ticket and package options early on.

Vendor and Exhibitor Opportunities

When you attend any Italian food festival, explore different food stalls, food vendors, and exhibitors. This way you are discovering different types of classic Italian fare. Your aim should be to be intrigued and satisfied.

Volunteering and Involvement

Volunteering is a great way to have an inside view of how these festivals are organized. When you volunteer some of the activities or tasks you’ll engage in are set up and break down, assisting vendors, and answering guests’ questions. When you volunteer you are supporting the festival and you might also earn a free admission so, check the festival’s website or social media for more details to sign up.

Tips for Enjoying Italian Food Festivals

  • They would be lots of walking and eating in potential heat or rain so dress comfortably.
  • Come with cash, as its customary for some vendors not to accept cards and ATMs on-site usually have high fees.
  • Come hungry and don’t come alone. Share dishes with friends so you can taste more items and have more fun.
  • Go for public transit or rideshare to avoid parking fees and traffic hassles.
  • Don’t forget dessert! After you have your taste of meals, end your visit with a sweet treat like gelato.
  • Take lots of photos, share them on social media and remember to tag the festival and vendors in your posts.

Where To Get Italian Food Like The Festivals?

If you can’t make it to one of these events, don’t worry—you can still experience authentic Italian cuisine at any time. Here are some recommendations to satisfy your craving for Italian cuisine and feel like you are in an Italian festival:



Eataly (a phonetic pun for Italy) is an Italian food hall featuring restaurants, counters, and a market where you can buy gourmet groceries and kitchenware. They have locations in Flatiron and Downtown Manhattan. At Eataly, you’ll find pasta, pizza, seafood, cheeses, olive oils, and wines galore. Grab a bite at one of their casual restaurants like La Piazza for pizza and pasta, or dine at their upscale spot Manzo for a special occasion. Eataly is ideal if you want to sample a variety of high-quality Italian specialties in one place.

Sesamo Restaurant

A dining experience at Sesamo Restaurant should be top of your list of things to do in NYC because it is a memorable one, every meal from Sesamo is a delightful combination of Italian and Asian cuisines, this is why this spot located at 764 10th Avenue, New York, New York 10015 is a must visit to savor Italian-Asian cuisine. Though their menu is small, Sesamo serves meals made from high-quality imported ingredients and farm-fresh ingredients. Their wood-fired Neapolitan pizza is perfectly enjoyed when paired with their craft cocktails like the Paper Plane with bourbon, Amaro Nonino, and Aperol. When next you visit NYC visit this cozy place and relish a delicious Italian-Asian meal or make a reservation now. 

Cook at Home

If you prefer to cook at home, you can find many of the ingredients for an Italian food festival feast at your local Italian markets or grocery stores with a good selection of imported goods. Pick up San Marzano tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, basil, olive oil, and dried pastas. Make your own tomato sauce, meatballs, or lasagna. A homemade Italian meal can be just as satisfying as the food at any festival.

Some other recommendations for bringing the Italian food festival experience home:

  • Try recipes from renowned Italian cookbooks. You can purchase and try Essentials of Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan or Lidia’s Mastering the Art of Italian Cuisine by Lidia Bastianich.
  • Watch cooking shows hosted by Italian chefs like Giada De Laurentiis, Mario Batali or Lidia Bastianich for recipe inspiration and tips.
  • Shop at Italian import stores for high-quality ingredients and kitchen tools. Some Italian import stores offer classes and tastings as well.
  • Play Italian music while you cook and dine to complete the ambiance!


So there you have it, the top Italian food festivals in New York City. Whether you’re craving homemade pasta, pizza, cannoli or gelato, the Big Apple has you covered. Put on your eating pants, bring your appetite, and get ready for a delicious adventure. These festivals are the perfect opportunity to experience authentic Italian cuisine, culture, and community. You’ll be surrounded by the sights, sounds and smells of Italy without leaving NYC.

We highly encourage you to experience one of these festivals for yourself. The energy, community, and of course, the food, are truly one-of-a-kind.