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Tourists Feast Eyes on Little Italy Feats

By  Jess Wisloski and Tuan Nguyen | September 1, 2012 5:05pm 

LITTLE ITALY — As if the promise of a classic margherita pie wasn't enough to draw in the tourists.

Visitors to the popular old-school New York neighborhood were impressed by more than the tastes of Little Italy on Saturday, thanks to a few eye-grabbing performances on Mulberry Street.

The performances, organized by Little Italy Merchant Association, featured Pico Lopez, a cigar master from the Dominican Republic, and one of the area's best pizza-tossers, Oscar Hernandez, from Il Piccolo Bufalo, showing off the dramatic tradition to a gaggle of spectators.

Lopez, who displayed his tools from a booth on Mulberry Street, between Grand and Hester streets, showed how he had learned to hand roll top-notch cigars, which he's been doing since the age of 12. Onlookers fawned over his elaborate stogies, which included one shaped like a baseball bat.

Meanwhile, Hernandez had bystanders nearly running for cover. As Hernandez spun and tossed the stretched dough higher and higher into the air, he seemingly missed the pizza with his knuckles, sending it towards Gina M. Calvano, from Long Island.

“It was cute. I love the performance,” said Calvano, who reacted just in time to catch the pizza. “I’m glad that it didn’t land on my hair.”

Krista Thompson, who was in town from Texas to see the U.S. Open with her daughter, said that she’s glad she caught the show in Little Italy.

“It was wonderful with the performance. The tossing was amazing and the pizza was tasty,” said Thompson, 49.

Hernandez's one tip to the onlookers: Don't try this at home!