Tucked between a Swiss and an Italian restaurant, Scent Elate brings Eastern spirituality to the neighborhood. With the doors swung open, the aromas were an enticing trail that led me into this tiny boutique packed with an array of incense, candles, soaps, oils and lotions. Scent Elate also has books on meditation and yoga scattered among crystals, jewelry, chimes and hanging ornaments. In fact, it might just be "the" place to go when searching for sticks of incense - not only is there a vast selection, but Mo, the owner, makes a special effort to find the perfect scent to enhance each individual customer's environment.
Once upon a time, partners Nicki and Lisa were just a couple of ladies who loved to travel. As their roster of overseas adventures grew, they noticed that each time they visited the far-flung corners of the earth they returned with a host of goodies that had caught their collective eye. An idea was born, and they founded Domus as a home-goods focused store with a global inventory. The attitude here, according to Nicki, is that "if we like something, and we think other people might like it, we do it. " That makes for a flexible and open approach, which over the years has led to spillover past the home-goods genre into arts and crafts, toys and knick-knacks of all sorts.
Three friends and self-proclaimed theater kids — John Soroka, Michael Quinn, and Gary Alaimo — were searching for something to do in between jobs and auditions. They started a flower shop, Everlastings, out of their shared apartment and began making arrangements for street fairs, offices, and homes. Upon realizing that the business had taken over their living space — “There were flower petals everywhere, ” John recalled — the trio rented a place in Hell’s Kitchen and decided to sell gifts and cards along with the bouquets. With time, these additions became the central focus of the shop, which was later renamed Delphinium Card & Gift. Though some thought the men were “insane” for opening in Hell’s Kitchen, they have remained a fixture in the area for over two decades and counting. “We had taste, we knew what we wanted, and we always had a knack for knowing what the neighborhood needed, ” John mused. Buoyed by their initial accomplishments, the trio started a second store, Delphinium Home, that stocked home goods and accessories, followed by a men’s clothing store, Wear Me Out, in 2003. In the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis and with the cost of rent skyrocketing, the friends closed the boutique and consolidated the two Delphinium shops into one location in 2011. Today, they sell decorations, home furnishings, works by local artists, and clever greeting cards that are handpicked by John. “Now that I’m not doing theater anymore, it’s my creative outlet. "Delphinium Home is my theater, ” he joked. Overall, John appreciates how lucky they are to have surmounted so many obstacles thanks to the constant support from the people around them. “We are only here by the good graces of those who have known us for such a long time and love what we do. ”
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.
If the sight of a regular lunch rush doesn’t convince you to try La Bellezza Pizzeria, then their pitch-perfect, classic New York slices will. After a trip in to try their signature pepperoni and tomato slices (a well-seasoned combination of cheesy, crunchy and savory, the Bellezza team has mastered the elusive sauce-to-cheese ratio), we got a chance to check in with the Dedvukaj family who have operated the East Midtown pizza joint for the past 23 years. Founded by Bronx-based Marko Dedvukaj, son Frank Dedvukaj — who started slinging slices in the shop at just 20 years old — took over the business so that, as Marko put it, “I can focus on the most important job of all — spoiling my grandkids, ” he told us, surrounded by visiting family members, some of whom also used to work at La Bellezza. As groups of grateful office workers filed in and out of the intimate storefront for a slice of pizza or La Bellezza’s famous chicken parmigiano hero — “at one point we were voted the #1 Chicken Parm on Yelp” Frank told us, he added that the biggest change he’s seen in business is a post-COVID slowdown of daytime visitors to the block. “The area is quieter, ” said Frank, noting that they still maintain a set of loyal regulars. “We’re still here! ”