Best of Manhattan 2011: City Services
Best Undiscovered Jewelry Shop: Reinerland Jewelry
162 Allen St. (betw. Rivington and Stanton Sts.), www.reinerland.com
Housed in a shared space with fedora purveyor Charm NYC, Reinerland is the brainchild of husband-and-wife team Cristina Taranu and Reiner Mengesdorf. In 2006, they opened up shop on the Lower East Side, specializing in one-of-a-kind and custom jewelry with an ancient Roman inspiration. "We go to The Met and observe old jewelry," said Taranu. "We want an unfinished, hammered feel." In that vein, animals and talismans abound: snake earrings, a heart-shaped necklace with a skull on the bottom. It's all presented on pieces of reclaimed materials ranging from weathered slate to driftwood salvaged from the East River.
Best Etailer Who Can Actually Measure You: Bonobos
45 W. 25th St., 5th Fl. (at 6th Ave.), www.bonobos.com/getfit
If you're a man in the 18-to-40 demographic, chances are you've seen ads for Bonobos' pants on Facebook-often featuring a shapely behind sheathed in brightly colored khakis. With its not-too-boxy, not-too-slim fits, etailer Bonobos says they are doing their part to "eliminate khaki diaper butt" while still allowing the wearer to retain his masculinity. The pants have been a big hit among Wall Street and Madison Avenue types-though this Downtown dude is a big fan himself. Bonobos avoids the pitfalls of online commerce by allowing unlimited free returns, but Manhattan customers would be well advised to step into Bonobos' Flatiron office, where you can receive personal assistance from savvy employees in their "Fit Ninja" program. The Fit Ninjas help fit and measure you so you know exactly which of their sizes fit you best-hang on to the numbers, as they could serve you at future fittings too. The Ninjas also consult on style, so you can get the best selection for your taste and wardrobe needs. Plus, they're called ninjas! Hi-ya!
Best Above and Beyond Service for Watches: JWATCH
39 W. 14th St., Ste. 501 (betw. 5th and 6th Aves.), 212-695-4270
In a city where you get what you pay for, it's a treat to experience great customer service even when money doesn't change hands. On a recent visit for a battery replacement (or so we thought), JWATCH's experts advised that maintenance at a manufacturer-authorized location was required. An energetic blond printed the other company's service request form and even filled in our watch's details for us. Turns out she was JWATCH owner Jamie Brown, a rarity in the male-dominated world of watchmaking. Brown hails from Dalhart, a small town in the Texas Panhandle, where she says going the extra mile to help people was instilled in her at a young age. Between Brown and watchmaker Antonio, who has 45 years of experience, JWATCH can fix almost any timepiece-even antiques and collectibles. And if they can't, they will help find someone who can.
Best Locksmiths: Greenwich Locksmiths
56 7th Ave. (betw. Barrow and Commerce Sts.), www.greenwichlocksmiths.com
Phil Mortillaro, the longtime proprietor of Greenwich Locksmiths, would like to make one thing very clear. They are locksmiths, not a hardware store with keys. Locksmiths through and through, Mortillaro and his handful of employees view their profession as a craft, something to be mastered over years of experience. That might be why the 31-year-old shop is a favorite of local building superintendents. Greenwich Locksmiths repairs antique locks, opens broken safes and cuts keys by hand. Just don't call if you're locked out at 2 a.m.-Mortillaro thinks the pricing is too exploitative to offer the service.
Best Downtown Haircut with Uptown Talent: Little Hair Shoppe
54 E. 4th St. #B (betw. 2nd Ave. and Bowery), www.littlehairshoppe.com Little Hair Shoppe stylists used feathers before they were cool and have perfected a natural red so real and rich even Julianne Moore would covet it. Even better, they're not the hired guns you'll find at the soulless blow-dry bars popping up around the city. Most are ex-Frédéric Fekkai talent who busted out of the confines of Midtown to create a home in the East Village. Sipping wine surrounded by exposed brick and hip, talented people, you almost forget why you came-to get pretty. Pre-event or post breakup, the artists of the Little Hair Shoppe will listen to both what you and your hair need. Color that says, "You owe me that raise, boss lady," or a cut to make you look thinner, these mane magicians can fix a bad cut or a crappy day at the office, all at incredibly reasonable prices. You leave the salon feeling well-coiffed and cared for. And if you ask nicely, they'll procure you Tater Tots from the pub down the street. What more could you want?
Best Place to Get Pants Hemmed for $5 or Less: Orchard Express Tailor Shop
136 Orchard St. (betw. Delancey and Rivington Sts.), 212-677-1099
When you just spent more than $100 on that Bar Mitzvah suit for your son, you don't want to spend another $30 getting the pants and sleeves shortened to fit his not-quite-a-man's physique. Orchard Express hems pants for $3 to $5. You put on your over-long duds in one of two makeshift dressing rooms, a tailor makes a deft mark and, presto, they're hemmed in 15 minutes. It's truly a "While-U-Wait" service, so you might want to bring in a batch and then go holiday shopping at the terrific Lower East Side Tenement Museum Shop on Delancey or satisfy a craving at Economy Candy on Rivington. And Orchard Express can do more than hem; they fixed the torn pocket on a treasured leather jacket for $15. Just don't give them anything too complicated. As one Yelp realist said, this is the "Dollar Chinatown Dumplings of Hems."
Best Place to Buy Dream Catchers, Moccasins and Fancy Jewels: Love, Adorned
269 Elizabeth St. (betw. W. Houston and Prince Sts.), www.loveadorned.com
Love, Adorned is one of those rare spaces in Manhattan that conjures up fantasies of packing it all in and driving out west to live on a commune in Topanga Canyon with attractive artisans who make intricate handmade jewelry on gorgeous vintage Persian rugs. Owned by the folks behind New York, Adorned, the tattoo and piercing shop in the East Village, Love, Adorned is a thoughtfully curated store that allows you to slip into a temporary mini-vacation. Tasteful body jewelry is sold alongside beautifully executed succulent terrariums (custom made by manager Vincent Martinelli, also the genius behind the Drake and Hen waxed canvas bags). Estate jewelry and up-and-coming designers create a perfect balance of old and new. You walk in a window shopper and walk out with a petrified wood side table, a one-of-a-kind dream catcher and the unnatural desire to move out to Santa Fe and go all Georgia O'Keeffe (with a pierced nose, of course).
Best Unofficial Personal Stylists: In God We Trust
265 Lafayette St. (at Crosby St.), www.ingodwetrustnyc.com
"I have nothing to wear," goes the common defeatist phrase uttered by many on a weekly basis. God forbid something like a wedding or other noteworthy event happens, because that can send one into an instant existential tailspin. Enter the gals at In God We Trust, a store with distinct style specializing in American-made women's and menswear, who will solve any last-minute fashion emergency, listen to your style conundrum and offer instant solutions. The best part is, they never pressure you into buying and give you their honest opinion 100 percent of the time. Can't afford one of their dresses? They might suggest investing in some of their highly affordable, handmade jewelry to jazz up something you already own. Want a dress you can wear for years? They'll personally pull pieces that they know will look good on you. Hell, they'll even help you design a wedding band and act as your personal therapists while you do it. Is there anything they can't do? Nope, pretty sure they do it all with style and panache.
Best, Smallest Independent Nail Salon: MY NAILS
7th Ave. (betw. 21st and 22nd Sts.), 212-229-2566
If you're tired of chain-type nail salons that are super sleek and expensive, get thy hands to My Nails. My Nails' charm is that it's not fancy and you can get a really good manicure/pedicure for a great price. It's a long, narrow space decorated with wilted plants, a fish tank with no fish and a cat clock with bulging eyes and a paw that moves as it counts the seconds. Owned by a woman and her daughter originally from Nepal, the shop is clean, efficient and has a relaxed atmosphere. Get a manicure, pedicure, massage or wax. Sunday through Wednesday, a mani/pedi is only $22.99 (plus tax)!
Best Place to Strike Thrift Store Gold: The Mystery Shop
1672 1st Ave. (betw. 87th and 88th Sts.), 212-423-9920
It's no mystery why the Second Hand Rose contingency of the Upper East Side swears by this five-year-old thrift store. This narrow but deep treasure trove houses so much antique/vintage/other people's used goods (call it what you will) that their host of unusual objects spills out on to the sidewalk, always drawing a crowd and adding to the "granny's attic" cachet. Most items come from residents of the neighborhood. Sometimes it will be a piece of furniture or art work you can't believe you've finally found for a couple hundred dollars, other times it will be a pair of earrings that call your name for a buck. They specialize in lighting and rewire lamps. There are no set hours, though; in general, the shop opens in the afternoon and closes around 11 p.m. Says owner, Grant Captanian, "You never know what's coming. It's always a?" Do we really have to say it?
Best Tailor Who Proposes Marriage: Pin Point Tailoring
255 W. 33rd St. (betw. 2nd and 3rd Aves.), 212-685-4706
A man who can flatter your figure and your ego? Yes, please! Anyone who expects alterations to be a simple errand hasn't lived in NYC long. Lies of "Come back tomorrow, I give to you," and zippers breaking mid-party have plagued Manhattan's fashion forward for years. Enter Pin Point. Looking in the window, the shop presents a portal to the past. Seasoned tailors Ismail and Celal are throwbacks to a time where clothes were fitted and women could be fawned over without a sexual harassment suit. If Statler and Waldorf were true lovers of the female form, they'd be these guys. A running commentary of your beautiful figure and lovely sense of style continues for the length of your visit. (It's not just for me-I checked.) More importantly, changes to your clothes are flawless and can be turned around in a day or two. They push Snickers minis to encourage weight gain, thus giving them repeat business. Ismail has proposed marriage with every visit-and for a discount, I might take him up on his offer.
Best Hard-Core Workout: Barry's Bootcamp
135 W. 20th St. (betw. 20th and 21st Sts.), www.barrysbootcamp.com
A longtime L.A. favorite, Barry's Bootcamp has finally opened a studio in New York City. Known for their heart-pounding, calorie-burning 60-minute workouts, each class ($32) combines cardio work on the treadmill with strength training on the floor. Classes are so sweat-inducingly effective they've even lured in the likes of Kim Kardashian-without makeup. Unlike what the phrase "boot camp" conjures up however, instructors at Barry's push students past where they thought physically possible without succumbing to drill sergeant yelling. The 3,500-square-foot New York City space is the mini-chain's largest to date and comes complete with locker rooms stocking Malin + Goetz beauty products, showers and a Fuel Bar serving up shakes and smoothies to replenish parched post-workout bodies.
Best Pampering Hair Salon for Men: Hommage Atelier by Julien Farel
605 Madison Ave, Penthouse (betw. 57th and 58th Sts.), 212.752.2100
Ladies have more wallet-thinning, pampering beauty treatment options than they know what to do with. When it comes to giving the gents indulgent treatments tailored to their needs however, that's a different story. In comes Hommage Atelier by Julien Farel, a bespoke grooming enclave designed specifically with the man in mind. Master barbers, technicians and hair stylists have all been hand-selected by famed hair stylist Farel and are equipped with iconic straight razors, shaving accoutrement and the professional skincare products that Hommage is known for. A full list of man-centric services, from a basic straight razor shave to unique services like hand grooming to ease carpal tunnel syndrome caused by excessive Blackberry use, is offered in the James Bond-worthy atelier. Among the amenities you can expect are a glass-encased fireplace, a skylight, $13,000 chairs on which the grooming services are performed and a personal attendant to ensure that all your needs-including steaming your jacket or bringing you a glass of single malt-are met.
Best Mosque to Get Married in: Islamic Cultural Center of New York
1711 3rd Ave. (at E. 96th St.), 212-722-5234
Get off at the 96th Street stop of the 6 train, look east and you'll see the blue-green-domed Islamic Cultural Center of New York filling a whole city block. The largest mosque in the city opened its doors to the public in 1991. The center, commonly known as the "96th Street Mosque" fits over 1,000 people within its walls ands boasts that it was the first mosque in NYC built from the ground up. The geometric form of the domed mosque, based on a recurring theme of square units, lines its walls. During the day, an abundance of light shines through the windows, making for a great wedding backdrop. Once you step inside the gates, you feel like you're in Cairo instead of the Upper East Side. Don't forget, no shoes allowed.
Best Place for a Bosom Tune-Up: Bra*Tenders
630 9th Ave. (betw. 44th and 45th Sts.), www.bratenders.com
Is your inner Jessica Rabbit is tired of being caged in a pigeon's body? Then nip in to Bra*Tenders, hidden on the 6th floor of the fabulous Art Deco-lobbied Film Center building. It's so super-secret, it's practically Fight Club. Once you're in, though, you're in, joining the ranks of idols from Gloria Steinem to Bette Midler. Follow warm Mamaleh Lori or one of her ladies behind the curtain where chests are transformed.
Best Place to Get a Tattoo from a Graffiti Artist: Tuff City 2
17 Essex St. (betw. Grand and Canal Sts.), www.tuffcitystyles.com
A spin-off of Tuff City Styles on Fordham Road in the Bronx, this tattoo shop on the Lower East Side retains the same combination of street cred and professionalism as its parent. The inside resembles a subway car complete with a pole, subway seats and turnstiles. A colorful mural of cans of spray paint covers one wall, fitting because the majority of the tattoo artists here are also graffiti artists, whose work is on display both in the shop and in the courtyard out back. The personable staff has the skill to calm a nervous first-timer one minute then find a way to add a unique piece of art to a body already covered in tattoos the next. Whether you want a monarch butterfly on your ankle or the New York City skyline on your back, these guys can draw it up and etch it onto your skin with the extreme precision and creativity that only true artists can offer.
New York’s Top Public High Schools
Op-Ed: How the U.E.S. Dies
New York’s Top Public High Schools
Op-Ed: How the U.E.S. Dies
In Each Picture, a Story