If you noticed a long winding line down 30th Avenue and Steinway Street last weekend, that was due to Comfortland kicking off their second annual San Gennaro Festival on Friday, Sept. 3, featuring their usual tasty fare, including deep-fried rainbow cake, boozy tiramisu shakes, deep-fried lasagna and more delicious Italian food for the two-weekend-long event.
The restaurant was decorated for the festival with red, white and green balloons, Italian flags, lights, music as well as tables and chairs. Guests enjoyed their food and the company of their friends fellow Comfortland guests, while live performances and DJing took place throughout the evening.
Some guests waited as long as an hour and a half in line to get their orders, but spirits were high and the wait was worth it especially when the payoff was getting to enjoy creative and tasty concoctions made by head chef and owner, Donnie D’Alessio.
“Comfortland is a staple in the neighborhood and anything they do is amazing, so I figured this is going to be a really special one,” said Astoria resident Vanessa Gonzalez-Bunster, who’s lived in the neighborhood for about nine years and who waited patiently in line for her first Comfortland event.
D’Alessio’s vision has certainly been a staple in the area and beyond, known for their decadent and often over-the-top dishes as well as desserts that have always had a twang of childhood nostalgia, complete with a feel-good, happy atmosphere.
Queens Comfort was actually D’Alessio’s flagship of the brand up until October 2020, when the business closed due to the struggles brought on by COVID-19 pandemic closures and restrictions. But Comfortland is still standing, and the restaurant even has a “throwback Thursday” where it features food from the Queens Comfort menu.
The idea for a Comfortland San Gennaro festival originated due to the pandemic after the San Gennaro Feast in New York City got canceled in September 2020 because of COVID. The event was such a hit that they decided to put it into their rotation of events resulting in a second annual event that will continue on throughout the foreseeable future.
“Whatever the pandemic threw at us, it’s all about adaptation,” said James Avatar, the restaurant’s front of house manager and brand ambassador. “The first year was amazing, but I can say that this has exceeded our expectations for San Gennaro for the second year. The line is going to continuously go around the block all weekend.”
Some of the San Gennaro menu includes chicken parmesan, mozzarella sticks, lasagna empanadas, sausage and peppers, chocolate chip cannoli ice cream with rainbow cookie crumb cake and Nutella, frozen fall sangria and many more tasty dishes as the festival continues on.
There will also be some DJing by Avatar and other guest DJs, as well as live performances throughout the two weekends. The first night was kicked off by singer Seann Cantatore, who sang some Italian songs along with some more familiar hits from artists like Adele.
“The vibes here are always great, even just the look of the place is amazing,” Cantatore said. “It’s very inviting, and everyone who works here is very positive and has good energy. People were participating in the music, so it’s just good vibes all around.”
Comfortland’s San Gennaro Festival will have second weekend on Friday, Sept. 10, and Saturday, Sept. 11, from 6 to 10 p.m., and Sunday, Sept. 12, from 6 to 9 p.m.