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Feast of San Gennaro kicks off; this year: a 2,000 pound cake

Free cannolis were passed out at the 85th

Free cannolis were passed out at the 85th annual Feast of San Gennaro festival. (Getty Images) Photo Credit: Free cannolis were passed out at the 85th annual Feast of San Gennaro festival. (Getty Images)

Little Italy's Feast of San Gennaro kicked off its 85th festival Thursday, and organizers this year hope to bring out the inner Italian foodie in all of us.

In a break with its street-food tradition, the festival is putting a focus on gourmet food this year, with Nolita restaurant Torrisi partnering with a handful of eateries to bring fancy food to the streets. And for those seeking something sweet, Ferrara Bakery is building what the festival is touting as the world's biggest candy store, with 100 feet of different types of candies.

The biggest draw this year will be Ferrara’s 2,000-pound, six-foot cake that will provide some 10,000 slices to happy eaters on Saturday.

"It's cultural, it's good for the stomach, and it's a nice thing for the neighborhood. We're very, very excited for this year," said Mort Berkowitz, an organizer.

Neighbors earlier this year tried to shrink the size of the festival, saying it's too disruptive. But after a months-long battle, organizers mostly won, agreeing to shut off the music at 9:30 p.m., instead of the usual 10 p.m.

Bob Gormley, district manager for Community Board 2, said he doesn't expect anything unusual this year.

"Even if you did everything by the book, it's still a monster of a feast and will make it difficult for people who live down there," he said.

If you go:
When: Now through Sunday, Sept. 25. It opens every day at 11:30 a.m. During the week it ends at 11 p.m., and on Friday and Saturday it ends at midnight.
Where: Mulberry Street between Canal and Houston


Follow reporter Tim Herrera on Twitter: @tim_herrera 

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