Ever since I read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, required for a philosophy class at Dartmouth in the late 70s, I have regarded my love for quality as an auspicious choice. I consider myself a Washingtonian, having lived in this city, on and off, most of my life. So herewith are some people to see, places to go, and things to do, that manifest the notion of quality, excellence. I don’t pretend to be the supreme arbiter of taste, but my standards are high, and well, what really is the matter with that?
1 Best Coffee and Café: Sankofa, 2714 Georgia Avenue N.W., Tensai Berhanu, from Ethiopia, makes an astonishing cup of coffee. Unparalleled. Peruse his independent bookstore of rare, fascinating, off-beat books available for purchase.
2 Best Art and Antique Gallery: Galerie L’Enfant, 1442 Wisconsin Ave NW, Washington D.C. Eclectic mix of oils, sculpture and objet d’art. Owner Peter Colasante is a tower-of-power when it comes to knowing art. Every piece in the gallery has a story Peter will charm you with. Oprah shops here.
3 Best Hair Stylist: Silvio at Elite for Hair, 2315 Wisconsin Ave, NW, Washington, D.C. Brazilian Silvio, who was stylist to the Kennedy women, is a master colorist (a wizard at blonding), and out-and-out virtuoso of cut and design. Affordable and fairly easy to secure an appointment. Also Rose, from Turkey, fabulously “threads” eye-brows, based on the shape of your face.
4 Best Plastic and Reconstruction Surgeon: Dr. Ron S. Perlman, 4910 Massachusetts Ave, NW, Washington D.C. Donald Trump (beauty pageant impresario) sends him clients who compete internationally. Perlman is popular with the society set. His, is known as the most natural looking, virtually pain-free, face-lift in town.
5 Best Documentary Film Festival: AFI-SILVERDOCS, Silver Spring, Maryland. Stunning global films screened with guest appearances by actors, producers, and directors, a bounty of lectures, and a very popular session, The Good Pitch, (which showcases filmmakers, armed with trailers and presentations, “pitching” to a panel of experts who critique) make this annual festival a cultural Eden.
6 Best Nail Spa: Ann Nails, 4600 Lee Hwy # 4600b, Arlington, Va. ; affordable; Thai is the genius here, the Bernini of nail sculptors. Manicures and Pedicures last for weeks.
7 Best Knee and Hip Surgeon: Dr. Nigel Azer, Washington D.C. I know: I am the bionic woman. This doctor is one of the kindest physician’s I’ve ever met. He also does so many knees and hips I bet he could replace a joint with his eyes closed.
8 Best Jeweler: Friendship Jewelers, 3410 Idaho Ave., NW, Washington, D.C. Repairs, and a stellar inventory of handpicked pieces by Joel Ellenbogen, proprietor, who has a distinct eye for what is surprising and elegant, make this shop feel like something you’d find on the Italian Riviera. Barbara Bush shopped for her famous pearls here.
9 Best Ice Cream: Thomas Sweet, 3214 P St., NW, Washington D.C. Otherworldly Ice-Cream, handmade of course. Richer and sweeter than your most vivid dreams.
10 Best Pizza: Stromboli, Downtown Bethesda. Thanks to Manuel and Juan in the kitchen, the pie delivers the real old brick oven crust taste you’d find in NYC’s Little Italia. Tomato sauce is perfectly balanced and generous mozzarella makes this pizza, served piping hot, a flavor and texture phenomenon. In addition, server, Dante, steers you to some of the best flash fried appetizers (including cheese-infused jalapenos) you’ll ever taste.
Journalist, author and playwright Alessandra Gelmi recently published “Ring of Fire,” a collection of her poems from 1972-2006. The author can be reached at [email protected]