Photography by Eric Isaac

Maria Brito

Art Advisor

| Chelsea

In our bizarro world where Instagram feeds are largely staged and everyone’s suddenly a connoisseur of succulents, we appreciate a gent or lady who can keep it real. So, while Maria Brito’s taste is superlative and her personal art collection enviable, what we love most about her is girlfriend’s propensity for being unapologetically her. Case in point: after graduating from Harvard Law and securing a position at a high-profile NYC firm, the Venezuelan native wasn’t afraid to walk away in pursuit of a “grayer” path (we mean that figuratively, definitely not literally)— one in art. Indeed, today her job title isn’t actually “a” title at all; Brito is an award-winning creative and interior designer, an art advisor, an author and a curator (not to mention, a mom of two, too). She rolls deep with Sean “P. Diddy” Combs (a client) to Basel, she’s dialed in with famous “fit friends” Tracy and Gwyn— Anderson and Paltrow that is (also clients)— and just last year, she was named one of the 20 major art power players by Complex Magazine. But, like we said, Brito knows how to keep it real; with 66-thousand eyes on her and counting (her Insta’ followers last we checked), Brito’s personal blog isn’t devoted to unattainable Picassos and Warhols, but rather it’s a virtual goldmine of up-and-coming artists she believes in— many of them local and generally unknown. Sure, Brito may decorate celebrity homes and curate CEO’s art collections, but she’s the first to endorse an underdog should his or her work catch her eye and she’d certainly never be afraid to call BS on art she didn’t believe in, no matter how big its social media following. Here, she sits down with CITIPHILE to reveal her little black book on NYC.

NEIGHBORHOOD STANDBY: Momoya (MAP IT, x)– it’s an authentic Japanese restaurant that everyone in my family loves. I love their salmon and avocado there!

COFFE OR TEA: Coffee! The best cup in the city is at my house because it tastes exactly as I want to.

ALL-TIME FAVORITE RESTAURANT: Momofuku KO (MAP IT, x)– no favorite dish, I just the entire tasting menu (I love getting surprised and it is all so delicious and sexy and weird.) David Chang is a genius.

COCKTAIL DE LA NUIT: I don’t drink mixed cocktails (I don’t like sweet drinks and I definitely don’t welcome the extra calories) so I only drink champagne. Oddly enough, champagne bars have failed miserably in NYC, and wine bars usually have a small selection of champagne by the glass, but it is usually not a good one. However, there is a tiny speakeasy on MacDougal Street that only serves champagne called Riddling Widow (*Location now closed) and it is fantastic. They have a great selection of vinyl and you can play them yourself too; it’s like being in your own living room.

DINNER WITH FRIENDS: SoHo House (MAP IT, x) or Hotel Americano (MAP IT, BOOK ITx) because I’m always running around between the galleries in Chelsea or the Lower East Side.

MUSIC PICK: I love all sorts of music– from the latest pop to Motown. I’m Latin so I’m always dancing. I think the best playlist ever belongs to my friend, fitness guru Tracy Anderson (MAP IT, x); when she plays her music for her [workout] class, it’s electrifying. I also like the music at Dirty French (MAP IT, BOOK IT, x). It is always good and lively.

BEST PEOPLE WATCHING: Anywhere below 23rd Street.

HEALTHY STAPLE: Organic Avenue (*Location now closed) for a green juice.

GUILTY PLEASURE: Harbs (MAP IT, x), a Japanese cake and coffee place that has this mille-feuille with layers of whip cream and fruit that is so, so freaking good; Momofuku Milk Bar (MAP IT, x) and all of their pies and cakes (I try not to pass by the window); Momofuku Nishi (MAP IT, BOOK ITx) has something called the “Impossible Burger,” it’s vegetarian, but it tastes like real meat and it’s great. Also, the truffle fries at SoHo House are a weakness of mine.

NY’S BEST-KEPT SECRET: New York Vintage (MAP IT, x), an incredible place full of the most tasteful, vintage and couture dresses/shoes/bags/jewelry– both for sale and for rent. Everything is exquisite. Anyone who is into fashion and beautiful things could spend hours here.

FIRST THING I MISS WHEN I’M AWAY: The energy and the speed.

REGULAR AT: Well, I go to Tracy Anderson’s studio in Tribeca every day and have been going there for the past seven and a half years since she first opened in NYC. Full disclosure: Tracy is my friend and she is a genius. But, I don’t just say that to say it– she really is incredible; her method is the absolute best thing I’ve done for my body. If you do her method with conviction and discipline, it will produce miracles. I also go to Momoya weekly (sometimes twice a week); everyone there knows me and my husband and kids too. And Dreamdry on 21st  Street (MAP IT, BOOK ITx)– I love getting my hair done in 20 minutes flat; I don’t go every day, but I go like twice or three times a week because, obviously, they do a much better job than I do.

DATE NIGHT STANDBY: My husband and I always watch a movie on Saturday, and then we go for dinner and drinks somewhere we have never been before. In the movie realm, I love the IFC on Sixth Avenue (MAP IT, x); they are undergoing renovations while keeping the theatre open. I think it is amazing to gain perspective with foreign movies, but I also love a good Hollywood blockbuster so the Cinepolis on 23rd Street (MAP IT, x) is always a good choice because the seats are big and comfy and they have this popcorn called “Chicago” that is a mix of caramel-flavored and spicy corn– it is addictive.

DELIVERY GO-TO: Ravagh (MAP IT, x) has some of the best Middle Eastern delivery food.

TO RELAX AND UNWIND: The gardens at the Cooper Hewitt Museum (MAP IT, x).

TO GET INSPIRED: All the galleries in Chelsea; The Whitney Museum (MAP IT, x).

FAVORITE ARTIST OF ALL-TIME: That’s like asking me which of my two kids is my favorite!

Everyone needs to take a few risks and step outside their comfort zone when it comes to building a personal art collection.

GO-TO PLACE FOR NEW ART: The galleries of the Lower East Side.

BEST ART DEALS: This is a tough one. I think there are great deals in galleries in the Lower East Side and surprisingly in Chelsea too, but online places like Artspace (x) always has great editions at unbeatable prices.

GO-TO GETAWAY: Mykonos in Greece. This past July, I even curated a big show of 16 New York artists there; I designed and wrote a book (with an introduction by Jeffrey Deitch) for the occasion– it was one of the best experiences of my life! I’d like to buy a house there. I find it funny that people think it’s only a “party place” or (God forbid) “like St. Barths.” Mykonos is full of history– the locals are incredible and the foreigners who own homes there are from all over the world and vastly cultured. They have music festivals, Greek theatre performed in English (this past summer, they were performing Antigone in an ancient amphitheater), a gorgeous outdoor movie theater inside a botanical garden, several super cool galleries including the Dio Horia (MAP IT, x) where I curated my show, archaeology museums, extraordinary hotels, and the most beautiful beaches surrounded by the most interesting rocky landscape (really, it’s not like St. Barths at all)!

CLOSET CHECK: I’m all about being myself so I’ll mix sequined Isabel Marant jeans (MAP IT, x) with fur coats and sneakers and things like that. I usually shop online because I have no time to go and try on a million things, nor go from one place to another, but Kirna Zabete in SoHo (MAP IT, x) is the exception. They always treat me incredibly well; somehow they always have my size; and they always have the best selection of big brands and newer ones.

BEST HOST/HOSTESS GIFTS: Wine! I love Astor Place Wines (MAP IT, x) is also very good. Sherry Lehmann (MAP IT, x) is excellent.

BEAUTY/GROOMING BLACK BOOK: I love Marc Mena (x) who is a friend of mine and brilliant hairstylist at Warren Tricomi (MAP IT, x), I love Dallas Benjamin (x) who is my colorist and he is at Salon SCK (MAP IT, x). I get my nails done at Spa Belles on 23rd and 7th Av (MAP IT, x) and lately I’m obsessed with their gel manicures. And I also love, love, Dreamdry on 21st— everyone knows me there too and it usually takes 20 minutes for them to get my hair done because they already know what to do.

FIT PICK: Only Tracy Anderson, 6-7 times weekly.

ULTIMATE NY MOMENT: My husband and I went to see the XS at the Armory on Park Avenue (MAP IT, x) about three years ago, and then headed to the after-party after the show. We went to grab a drink and when I turned around, suddenly right next to us, there was Madonna and her daughter and their whole entourage. She was wearing sweats and a big black puffy coat, no makeup– just flying under the radar. I don’t think anyone noticed her. CP

Maria’s New York

From L to R: First Row: Dreamdry; Seafood at Momoya; Cooper Hewitt Museum; Cafe from Momofuku Milk Bar. Second Row: Momofuku KO; Lunch at Momofuku Nishi; Cocktail at Soho House; Skirt from New York Vintage.

From L to R: First Row: Hairstyle from Dreamdry; Crudo at Momoya; A piece at The Cooper Hewitt Museum; Birthday cake from Milkbar. Second Row: Inside Momofuku KO; Carbonara at Momofuku Nishi; A cocktail at SoHo House; New York Vintage.


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