LITTLE ITALY, Manhattan (PIX11) – More than a million people attended the San Gennaro festival in Manhattan’s Little Italy this year, a strong bounce back from previous pandemic years.

Crowds turned out in pre-pandemic levels to experience authentic Italian food and culture.

At the oldest restaurant in Little Italy, the 150-year-old Ferrara’s, the fifth-generation owner sliced up a nine-layer cake and handed out 2,000 free slices to celebrate a successful San Gennaro, now in its 96th year.

“It’s just about being a New York street festival, enjoying Italian food and just sharing, especially after COVID. It’s great to see everybody come out and have fun,” said Ferrara’s owner Ernest Lepore.

At Caffe Napoli, celebrating 50 years on Mulberry Street, the grandson of the original owners couldn’t be happier.

“It’s a big bounce back from last year, which is big. A lot of people coming from different countries, different parts of the United States, different parts of New York. A lot of people are coming back. I see a lot of familiar faces each day. It’s definitely been better than last year, and anything beats 2020,” Jaeden Fontana said.