Photography by Adam Cantor

Julie Ann Orsini

Fashion Archivist, The Wardrobe

| Dumbo

“My husband jokes that there are very few places where I could survive on the culinary offerings,” laughs Julie Orsini. “I’d starve to death in suburbia.” A native New Yorker, Orsini is a museum-trained fashion archivist who appreciates quality— in food and in fashion. After earning her Masters of Arts degree in Fashion and Textile Studies at FIT, she founded her business, The Wardrobe, where she works to preserve the collections of such industry power players as Tom Ford, Jason Wu and Proenza Schouler (FYI she’ll work with private clients too). Her system of tagging, cataloguing and storing pieces is pivotal when fashion houses need to put museum retrospectives on too— Orsini was the curator of one of our favorite exhibits in recent memory, “Sole Desire: The Shoes of Christian Louboutin,” at the Museum at FIT. Here, she sits down with CITIPHILE to reveal her little black book on NYC.

NEIGHBORHOOD STANDBY: Rucola in Boerum Hill (MAP IT, x) is a spot that my husband, son and I hit up weekly— the crudo is outstanding and the roast chicken is the best I’ve ever had. My son is a huge fan of the chocolate pudding. We’ll have a leisurely dinner with a couple of glasses of wine and then work some of it off on the walk back to Dumbo.

COFFEE OR TEA: I actually brew my own at home every morning, rotating between La Colombe Corsica and Joe’s House Blend. Once a week, I go to Almondine Bakery (MAP IT, x) for breakfast where they also brew La Colombe Corscia; I can never get it to taste as good at home as they do!  While it’s always super strong and rich (even at home), they seem to make it extra special.

ALL-TIME FAVORITE RESTAURANT: This is so tough! There are so many incredible restaurants in NY, it’s impossible to pick one hands-down favorite, but one meal I always enjoy is the Tajarin alla Carbonara at dell’anima (MAP IT, BOOK IT, x). It’s a tiny and boisterous spot and I particularly love it when it’s snowing out— it feels super cozy and that dish is incredibly satisfying.

COCKTAIL DE LA NUIT: I have two. A Saint Germain cocktail with a twist— Beau at Scarpetta (MAP IT, BOOK IT, x) always makes it perfectly. In fact, as soon as my husband and I walk in the door, Beau has one waiting for me… How’s that for service? And a Gin Gin Mule at my favorite bar, Bemelmans at The Carlyle (MAP IT, x); Bemelmans is very classic, very old New York.

GIRLS NIGHT OUT: My girlfriends and I usually meet for dinner or a glass of wine. Sant Ambroeus in the West Village (MAP IT, BOOK IT, x) is a standby, The Waverly Inn (MAP IT, BOOK ITx) is also fun for a big group, and if I’m having a museum date with a girlfriend, we like to have a glass of wine at Ristorante Morini on the Upper East Side afterwards (MAP IT, BOOK IT, x). In Brooklyn, French Louie on Atlantic Avenue (MAP IT, x) is great for everything from a lunch date (great steak frites) to cocktails.

MUSIC PICK: I have wide-ranging music tastes. I love everything from classical music to classic rock, house and hip hop. Once in a blue moon, my husband and I will go to the monthly “I Love Vinyl” party—  I prefer the Manhattan location (the Williamsburg party is in a space with a concrete floor…  a killer if you plan to dance in heels).

BEST BRUNCH: I don’t do brunch— waiting an hour for a table is not my thing. I’m more of a breakfast kind of girl. I cook up a huge breakfast for myself every morning before my boys are awake. For breakfast meetings however, I am almost always at Buvette (MAP IT, x)… great food, great people watching, charming spot.

BEST PEOPLE WATCHING: It used to be Times Square (the old one!). Now, I always see interesting characters during the lunch hour at Freds at Barneys (MAP IT, BOOK IT, x).

HEALTHY STAPLE: The Smile’s (MAP IT, x) kale and pickled apple salad with grilled chicken.

GUILTY PLEASURE: I have a serious sweet tooth. Betty Bakery on Atlantic Avenue (MAP IT, x) has the most outrageous Valrhona chocolate and red velvet cakes— a slice of one of those will do nicely! I mourn the butterscotch pudding at Vinegar Hill House (MAP IT, BOOK IT, x). WHY did they take if off the menu?! Now I get my BSP fix at Mercer Kitchen (MAP IT, BOOK ITx).

NY’S BEST-KEPT SECRET: I will probably get a lot of flak for this, but I think that for a born New Yorker (or even a long-standing local), occasionally taking in the city the way a tourist might can be one of its best-kept secrets. It is so cliché and obvious, but we live in the most amazing city in the world with so much to offer across the arts/food/fashion/design, etc. It is very easy to get wrapped up in your routine and do the same thing day-in and day-out. We might as well be living in the suburbs if we do that, right?  I try to make time a couple of days a month for a tourist-y itinerary. For example, I recently spent a morning at The Morgan Library (MAP IT, x), had a pastry and coffee at Lady M (MAP IT, x), walked to Fifth Avenue and 59th Street to do some errands, had lunch in the West Village and rounded the day out with a walk home over the Brooklyn Bridge.

FIRST THING I MISS WHEN I’M AWAY: The food! My husband jokes that there are very few places where I could survive on the culinary offerings… I’d starve to death in suburbia.

DATE NIGHT STANDBY: Scarpetta and Charlie Bird (MAP IT, BOOK IT, x) are our two most consistent date night spots right now. Both serve excellent Italian food (our favorite) and take good care of us with their gracious service.

REGULAR AT: I’m a regular at a lot of places— I am loyal to what I love. I am an absolute Body by Simone (MAP IT, BOOK IT, x) addict. The workout is intense, fun and yields great results. I’m also a regular at the aforementioned Almondine Bakery. Chef Herve makes a prosaic sounding bran muffin something sublime. My husband and I are also regulars at Scarpetta, L’Artusi (MAP IT, BOOK IT, x) and Charlie Bird.

DELIVERY GO-TO: I almost never order takeout (very un-New York, I know!), but I love to cook. For sushi, we order from Miso (MAP IT, x), but that’s about it.  For the occasional takeout, Jack the Horse Tavern (MAP IT, x) will do their excellent cheeseburgers (or anything else on the menu for that matter) to go.  And in a pinch, I pick up a rotisserie chicken at Forager’s (MAP IT, x). The chicken is the best deal around— it’s delicious and totally reasonably priced.

CLOSET CHECK: My look is Jackie O. at a Stones show.  The 60’s and early 70’s are my favorite fashion era and I like to blend classic American sportswear with a little bit of an Anita Pallenberg edge— minis and boots are definitely my standby look. 1stDibs is the most fabulous resource for consolidating one-off vintage pieces from resources all over the world. In terms of brick-and-mortar shops, Pink Clouds on Broome Street (*Location now closed) is a perfect jewel box of a vintage boutique, Zoe in Dumbo (*Location now closed) is my go-to for contemporary merchandise (Lisa Brock curates a fabulous selection of Saint Laurent, Stella McCartney, Balenciaga, etc. and it’s right on my block – seriously dangerous), I really like Fivestory (MAP IT, x) and Kirna Zabete (MAP IT, x), David Rosen at Barneys (MAP IT, x) is my main man for shoes, and for vintage jewelry, my favorite source is the De Jewels booth at the Manhattan Vintage Show— I go every February, October and April. I’ve gotten some great pieces there. My favorite is a metal filigree chain belt from the 60’s.

BEST HOME DÉCOR: Midcentury modern has always been my favorite and I think it works best with the bones of my apartment. Lost City Arts (MAP IT, x) is filled with excellent mid-century eye-candy. ABC Carpet & Home (MAP IT, x) is fabulous for textiles.

BEST HOST/HOSTESS GIFTS: Aedes de Venustas in the West Village (MAP IT, x) or I send an arrangement from Opalia Flowers on Atlantic Avenue (MAP IT, x).

BEAUTY BLACK BOOK: David at Flora Nails & Spa (MAP IT, x) does excellent reflexology. It’s a no-frills, local spot and reasonably priced enough to make it a regular indulgence.

FIT PICK: Body by Simone, 5 times a week! All of the teachers at BBS are amazing and I couldn’t possibly pick a favorite. It’s great to shake it up and keep your muscles guessing and they all tweak the routine slightly to make it more their own.  I also horseback ride whenever I can— riding was my true passion and something I did religiously growing up. Admittedly, it’s not easy to fit in a barn commute and riding time while growing a business and being a mom and wife, but Stephanie Demmon at Sage Hill Farm (x) is a great trainer in a beautiful Westchester location.

ULTIMATE NY MOMENT: About ten years ago, I was living in Tribeca and used to love a little place called Sosa Borella. (It was a tiny little Italian/Argentine neighborhood spot on Greenwich Street.) I was having an early dinner with one of my oldest friends and we were the only two people in the restaurant except for one man— he was sitting right across from us and I was getting annoyed because he was eavesdropping on our conversation. I shot him a disapproving look and my annoyance quickly turned to embarrassment when I realized it was Al Pacino. I suddenly got very quiet and starstruck. About ten minutes later, Harvey Keitel walked in and joined his friend, Al. Wow! My friend and I were stunned (and lingered over our coffee). Another five minutes went by, and Robert DeNiro came in and sat down with them. Seeing those three actors who had been in some very iconic New York movies just enjoying dinner like regular guys in a local joint felt like an ‘only in NY’ moment. CP

Julie’s New York

From L to R: First Row: Vintage from Pink Clouds; Arrangement by Opalia Flowers; Cocktail at French Louie; Small bite at The Smile. Second Row: Seafood at Charlie Bird; Vinegar Hill House salad; Matches from Buvette; Seasonal salad at Rucola.


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