Adventures of Gus and Kim: Newport Italian Festival - Newport, Kentucky


Do you go to local festivals? We love festivals - at home and when we travel. One of our favorites is the annual Festa Italiana in Newport, Kentucky. In case you couldn't tell from photos, Gus is Italian. As in 100% Italian with all of his grandparents born in Italy. I think his favorite foods in the world are pizza, pasta, and bread. In that order.

Believe it or not, we actually attended the very first one back in 1991, when Lulu was just a couple of months old, and Buddy was about 17 months old. It was in a different location back then and just had a few booths. This year was the 27th annual festival, and I believe they averaged over 100,000 visitors!

Newport Italian Festival along the Ohio River in Newport, Kentucky
19th annual Newport Italian Festival in 2011

The festival is held the second weekend in June, beginning at 5pm on Thursday and ending at 9pm on Sunday. It's located on Riverboat Row between the Purple People and Taylor-Southgate Bridges, which is basically just below Newport on the Levee. As a matter of fact, if you park at the Levee and walk down the steps by the Newport Aquarium, you'll be right in the center of the festival.

Food booths at the Newport Italian Festival along the Ohio River in Newport, Kentucky
Gus and Buddy checking out the Alfa Romeos with food booths in the background

Mangia! Mangia! There is always delicious food. Some of the vendors change from year to year, but you can count on Pompilio's (it's the restaurant in Rainman where the toothpicks get scattered on the floor) and LaRosa's. This year, they had those two as well as Brio's, Newport Pizza Co., and a few other places.

Gus was in meatball heaven. He had meatballs from two different restaurants. He does love meatballs.

Meatballs at the Newport Italian Festival along the Ohio River in Newport, Kentucky
Meatballs from Brio Tuscan Grille

I don't usually eat pasta, but I make an exception during the Festa Italiana. I had Gnocchi Bolognese from I wish I knew where. For the life of me, I cannot remember the name on the booth. I don't think it was a restaurant that I know. I can picture exactly where the booth was in the lineup, and I know they had a white banner, but the name...it's gone. I've even tried Googling the food to see if it would pop up with a local restaurant, but so far no luck.

Gnocchi bolognese at the Newport Italian Festival along the Ohio River in Newport, Kentucky
Gnocchi Bolognese

I also had rigatoni with a bolognese sauce from Pompilio's. It was the oddest bolognese sauce I've ever had, but it was good!

Rigatoni bolognese at the Newport Italian Festival along the Ohio River in Newport, Kentucky
Rigatoni with bolognese sauce from Pompilio's

Buddy had veal ravioli with portobello mushrooms. Also from the place none of us can remember. He said it was delicious, so I really need to figure out this place!

Veal ravioli with portobello mushrooms at the Newport Italian Festival along the Ohio River in Newport, Kentucky
delicious veal ravioli from ?

Buddy and I were happy to see that one of our favorite local breweries - Braxton Brewing - had a booth. And they had one of our favorite summer Berliners (passionfruit) on tap: Summertrip.

Summertrip beer from Braxton Brewing at the Newport Italian Festival along the Ohio River in Newport, Kentucky
Braxton Brewing's Summertrip

For those who don't want beer, there are plenty of other beverages available. Soft drinks, iced tea, lemonade...and an entire tent devoted to wine and wine tastings.

My favorite part is, of course, dessert. Cannoli!! I usually get the cannoli from the Sons of Italy booth (it's not a restaurant, it's a group of people with Italian roots) because I figure a lovely nonna (grandma) made them. But this year, Newport Pizza Co. also had cannoli. It was my duty to sample both to see which was best. And you know what? Newport Pizza Co. won! As a matter of fact, I liked it so much that Gus and I went there for dinner the other night. Mostly so I could get another cannoli!!

Cannoli at the Newport Italian Festival along the Ohio River in Newport, Kentucky
cannoli from Newport Pizza Company

View of downtown Cincinnati from the Newport Italian Festival along the Ohio River in Newport, Kentucky
cannoli from The Sons of Italy

For those who don't like cannoli (gasp!), there are many other options like funnel cakes, tiramisu, and Buddy had some blue raspberry gelato which he said was delicious.

Food booths at the Newport Italian Festival along the Ohio River in Newport, Kentucky
food booths at the Italian Festival

We sat under the tents, enjoyed the view of the Ohio river (even though it's brown) and downtown Cincinnati, as we listened to authentic Italian music - live.

Ohio River, the River Queen, and a view of downtown Cincinnati

View of Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati from the Newport Italian Festival along the Ohio River in Newport, Kentucky
Great American Ballpark, home of the Cincinnati Reds

There are also carnival rides on the opposite end of the festival - separated from the food booths by the huge tents housing the Family Photo Booth, full of photos of generations of Italian families that settled in Newport many years ago.

Parking: As I mentioned above, you can park in the Levee parking garage (I think it's $3 or $5). There is also parking on Riverboat Row. We got there around 12:30 on Saturday and there was a ton of parking available on Riverboat Row. The cost was $5 and we were about 50 feet from where the carnival rides started.

Adventures of Gus & Kim: What to do in Newport, Kentucky - Newport Italian Festival

Do you have a favorite local festival you go to every year? Let me know in the comments - we're always looking for new things to do!
Kim A.
0 Comments

No comments:

Post a Comment

I love reading your comments!!