Meet 64th Street
If there is one thing to be said for 64th Street, it is that the denizens respect craftsmanship. The street is scattered with meticulous designers, classic antiques, and lovingly prepared food. All these masters of their craft live on 64th because, in the words of Paolo Alavian at Ristorante Altesi, “The neighborhood really wants [them] to succeed.”
Antique shops almost bookended 64th, for beginning just a short distance from the East River, I found a perfect gem tucked on a quiet block between garages and hair salons. Nicolo Melissa Antiques is run by an adorable couple – Nicolo from Italy and Melissa, a native New Yorker. The shop is full of fascinating pieces from Europe dating back to the 1st Century. The Emporium Ltd., owned by the charismatic Leo Mavrovitis, has been situated on the West Side for over forty years.
Continuing my stroll on the East Side, I found more cause to celebrate art and design. Moeller Fine Art was showing haunting sketches by Lyonel Feininger, on the day that I visited, as part of their emphasis on nineteenth and twentieth century masters. Dahesh Museum of Art, which used to be located on the Avenue of the Americas, will soon move to this part of town. They have purchased, and are renovating, a brownstone between Third and Lexington Avenues to showcase European artists from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Also lining the street is internationally acclaimed designer Tony Ingrao’s gallery, Ingrao Inc. In terms of designers, I had the pleasure of meeting the extremely talented Vanessa Noel, who shared her stories and the exotic materials that she uses to craft her shoes. Mark Badgley and James Mischka showcase their clothing at Badgley Mischka just off of Madison Avenue, and Ilias Lalaounis has a treasure trove of gold and silver pieces created using the same techniques as the Ancient Greeks. Art could also be seen in the stunning Plaza Athenee Hotel and its restaurant, Arabelle, where murals decorated the walls.
Philanthropy and community play an important role on 64th. The Central Presbyterian Church not only provides an example of yet another impressive feat of architecture, but also serves as a home for the Ziegfeld Club, organized to aid any Ziegfeld Girls in need of assistance, and now dedicated to archiving the photos and documents that give a peek into the life of a showgirl. The Russell Sage Foundation and the Carnegie Council, on the East Side, and New York Society for Ethical Culture west of Central Park are each dedicated to making the world a better and more peaceful place to live.
What would a street be without splendid dining rooms? On the East Side, the Manhattan Sideways team sat down with Paolo Alavian for almost two hours. While listening to his heart-warming stories of arriving in the States from Italy, we were treated to a remarkable meal of fine Italian dishes. I still have fond memories of visiting Alice’s Tea Cup for the first time with my daughter when she was younger and watching her pour herself a cup of tea and biting into a scrumptious scone. She was elated. On the West Side, surrounding Lincoln Center, there is no shortage of excellent restaurants to choose from as Boulud Sud, Picholine and Atlantic Grill all line 64th, always making for a nice way to end the day.