Aunt Mary’s famous


Signs like this really pique my interest, but when I heard about the rice balls at La Festa Italiana in downtown Jersey City (running through Sunday, August 17, 6pm to 11pm), it was definitely time to head over.

The crowd picks up fast after the sun goes down, so don’t let this photo deceive you. The entire festival is only a block long, so it’s not too hard to fill it up. Then again, compared to a certain festival in Manhattan’s Little Italy every Fall, this one in Jersey City is a walk in the park.

But back to the rice balls, or more precisely, Aunt Mary’s Famous Rice Balls. Apparently everyone within a 5-square-mile radius of the festival knows about these rice balls, because even as early as I showed up (before 8pm, on a Wednesday no less), the line for these was long, like 20+ minutes long. So I got a nice long look at the ladies deep-frying them behind the counter.

These babies, $1.75 each, were out of the deep fryer for all of a minute before I was eating them. Okay, so they were a little hot, but a scorched tongue isn’t going to stop me. Of course you say yes when they ask if you want some sauce on top. If the line wasn’t so long, I’d probably have gone back for one more.

Then it was zeppole time, a ridiculous bag of a baker’s dozen, drowned in powdered sugar. No shots of that scene, because the sugar was everywhere, mostly all over our faces.

By the way, I’m not even a “dog person,” but how cute is this thing? The pooch and its owner were in front of me in the rice ball line, and I got the feeling it was posing for this shot.


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