While predominately an online venture, La Rukico Tailors has its headquarters on the east side of 48th, within close proximity of many corporate offices. It was here that I was able to get a behind the scenes look at this impressive father and son operation. The owner, Kelly La Rukico, considers himself "a cloth merchant instead of a tailor. " He does not do the sewing himself but rather "takes measurements, purchases the fabric and arranges for the custom production in Hong Kong. " By ordering the fabrics abroad in bulk, and having the manufacturing done overseas, La Rukico manages to produce less expensive, custom-made quality suits for his clients. "I've never sewn a button in my life! " he shared, "I only stock the fabric and organize the transaction. "The La Rukico family has a long history in the trade. In addition to the son who currently works by his side, Kelly's father and grandfather were both cloth merchants before him. And, although Kelly initially came to America from India in 1968 to study chemistry, he ultimately decided to return to the family trade - only now in Manhattan. "I wanted to be my own boss, " La Rukico said, "I wouldn't have been able to manage my own hours if I had continued with chemistry. "Opening his first shop in the Lexington Hotel in 1972, Kelly La Rukico described the pleasure of being in the industry and neighborhood for so long. "We have many repeat clients coming in, and many of my original customers have started to bring their children to me, hoping I can get them the look they desire. " When I asked him what makes people return year after year for new suits, he laughed and said, "You don't change your doctor, you don't change your dentist, so why should you change your tailor? "
Thirty years ago, Jorge moved from Lima, Peru to begin a new life in the United States. Little did he know that someday he would own such a reputable tailor shop in the heart of Manhattan. Within his small lower level basement, Jorge operates his tailoring business with a client base ranging from celebrities to the average, local New Yorker. Sitting behind his desk with a patient smile, Jorge described what it was like to grow up in Peru and have his father first involve him in the tailoring profession. “My father was a tailor. I grew up with the work since I was a boy learning how to sew. I like to think I am where I am now because of my father, ” he told me. When he decided to move to New York, his father saved enough money to send him, and he began dreaming of owning a business. After working for various tailors, most of which were Italian, he was given the opportunity in 2011 to buy Peppi’s from a retiring tailor. “The opportunity was in front of me so I decided to go for it, ” he said. Jorge specializes in hand finishing and stitching, but any type of alteration is received at Peppi’s Tailor. “I do everything, from sewing on a button to altering a Zenga suit. But I always like to make my changes look exactly like the original. That is the most important thing. ” From dresses to jackets, Jorge works on pieces in his shop or travels to a specific New York location at the request of a client. “I once had to go to Madison Square Garden. I usually don’t know who the client is until I get there, and in this case it was Michael Buble, ” Jorge shared. Whether doing a job in person or completing a rush service in his shop, all of his work is done by hand and given the same detailed attention. “I do the same work for everyone, every job is important. ” He proudly brought out a few jackets and showed me how he alters them, what he plans to do for some, and the stitching needed for a specific repair. In the corner of the room I could see a small curtain, serving as a changing room. Jorge's desk and sewing machine are strategically placed slightly between the curtain and the mirror placed on the other end of the room. This way, Jorge explained, he can work on his alterations while he sees how the work fits his client. Jorge did mention that it "is a very tiring job on the eyes, which not many people understand. It requires a lot of hours and focus. ” As he admiringly gazed at the racks of suits, shirts, pants and dresses lined up next to his sewing machine, he added, “But I love my job, and until my eyes give up on me I will continue doing what I love. ”
Opened in 1992 and originally located on the Upper East Side, Oceana moved to 49th Street in 2009. The Livanos family sowed the seeds for the glorious Oceana long ago when they ran a diner and realized their ambitions to develop it into something more. Having worked hard to make their dreams a reality, Oceana continues to pride itself on the freshness of its food and makes a point to have direct relationships with the fish mongers and farmers. Although some have called Oceana the Mecca of seafood, the restaurant's menu is notably diverse. The executive chef, Ben Pollinger, takes to the broad reaches of American cuisine and mixes elements of different dishes together, often in an unexpected way. The Manhattan Sideways team eagerly sampled a few of the marvelous dishes, including the Copper River Sockeye Salmon Crudo, featuring pickled ramps, parsley oil, and Amagansett sea salt, and the Sea Scallops Ceviche that is topped with peaches, ginger, and cinnamon basil. I was pleasantly surprised by the incredible vegetarian dish that the chef also prepared - Summer Squash & Cranberry Bean Salad, consisting of zucchini, gold bar and pattypan squash, pignoli, purslane and drizzled in lemon vinaigrette. Absolutely delicious. The last member of the Oceana team that we were introduced to was their wine director, Pedro Goncalves. Pedro, who began working at Oceana in 2001, makes a concerted effort to develop drink pairings to accompany the delectable food menu. Standing near the white marble bar, he proudly told us that Oceana has 1100 wine listings and 600 spirits. He went on to report that with forty-seven different gins, Oceana has one of the largest selections of in the city. "There is something to fit every personality, " Pedro said.
La Maison du Chocolat is a sophisticated example of a delectable chocolate shop. Everything sold inside its doors is made in Paris, with the exception of the ice cream that includes ingredients from France but is prepared on site. The day that Manhattan Sideways stopped by, we met Brigitte who has been working here since 2010. A knowledgeable chocolate connoisseur, Brigitte shared La Maison's history. We learned that Robert Linxe, the founder was originally from the French Basque Country, but acquired much of his craft while attending school in Switzerland. He went on to run a successful catering service in Paris for twenty years before deciding to pursue his true passion. At the time, chocolate was considered something to be saved strictly for special occasions; as Brigitte told us, people thought Linxe's enthusiasm for a shop devoted to chocolate was "crazy. " Nevertheless, Linxe was able to find an auspicious space in Paris with a wine cellar, which he used to make the delicacies and protect them from the damaging effects of the weather. In 1977, Linxe opened the doors and welcomed Paris to his specialty boutique. Within three weeks, all of the chocolate had been sold and Linxe was dubbed the master of ganache. And in 1996, over twenty years later, Nicolas Cloiseau, the highly acclaimed chocolatier and pastry chef joined the business continuing La Maison's coveted reputation. Brigitte stressed that the discussion of chocolate is akin to that of wine; expertise comes from reading on the subject, perhaps taking a course, and most importantly, much experience. Moreover, chocolate and wine may be enjoyed together when paired consciously. Chocolate always goes well with "a nice red wine, " Brigitte said. Quickly turning to the particulars, she added that milk chocolate is best paired with white wine and dark chocolate with port. Brigitte continued to enlighten us, saying with detectable fervor, "Good dark chocolate should not be bitter. " It takes approximately ten days to dry cocoa beans. Rushing this process, a common crime of many chocolate companies, results in this bitter taste. Brigitte made a point of showing us how to taste chocolate: smell it first and then let it melt in your mouth. After this incredible offering of chocolate wisdom, Brigitte presented us with a plate of small pieces of chocolate arranged deliberately in a circle. Beginning at forty percent, each successive piece around the circle had an increased concentration of pure chocolate. We continued to climb past eighty and concluded with a piece of one hundred percent pure chocolate. At this point, a natural thickness set in and the pieces lost all association with candy. Suddenly, each of us agreed, it felt as though we were appreciating chocolate, not as a beloved dessert or comforting treat, but as a wonder of the earth.