Upper Main Street Sarasota is beginning to shine. The potpourri of mom-and-pop shops we know and love has been re-energized with an influx of under-the-radar boutiques, hip cafés and coveted national brands. The most happening spot: where Lemon and Main form Pineapple Square. That’s where Brooks Brothers and Sur La Table now link upper and lower Main Streets, drawing crowds eager to explore boutiques and restaurants all the way east to Washington Boulevard.
Bankers’ Dozen Legend says the spongy little cakes called Almond Financiers got their name because they’re so rich ($1.25 each; $13.35 a dozen). We say chef Dylan Elhajoui’s irresistible recipe is as good as money in the bank. Pastry Art, 1512 Main St., (941) 955-7545.
Haute Hardware Main Street’s oldest shop (circa 1942) combats big-box stores with old-fashioned service and high-end style. The Swarovski crystal doorknobs ($566) are the biggest rocks that will ever touch your hands. Sarasota Hardware, 1554 Main St., (941) 953-2153.
Bottoms Up It takes a Brazilian to dress your bottom properly, and that’s what Lucianne Peterson does with infamous butt-lifting Sawary Jeans (under $100) and Brazil’s No. 1 bikini brand, Salinas (to $120). The Girl from Brazil, 1650 Main St., (941) 363-0506.
Classic Fit Brooks Brothers’ new Country Club concept is a perfect fit for the Sarasota lifestyle; cashmere sweaters are already runaway best-sellers for both men ($468 for pure Scottish cashmere) and women ($228 for the smartest argyle in town). Brooks Brothers, 1500 Main St., (941) 954-7545.
Savoir Faire Provençal fare, that is. While Robert Millaire minds the store, daughter Veronique secures the Sud’s best artisans for pottery, fabrics and furniture like this carved, hand-painted replica of a 100-year-old armoire ($3,300). Via Mediterranee, 1564 Main St., (941) 955-8985.
Disparate Housewives In Sarasota, some cook, some won’t. But all of Wonderland’s customers adore Kitchen Glam aprons: The cooks wear clothes underneath; non-cooks don’t. Smokin’ hot aprons ($40); matching potholders, optional. Wonderland, 1507 Main St., (941) 364-9808.
C’est Magnifique Why do fans drive miles for Christophe and Geraldine Coutelle’s sublime baguettes ($1.90)? “If we give the recipe it won’t be a secret,” they quip, revealing only a special three-flour blend and French-made Pavailler oven. C’est La Vie, 1553 Main St., (941) 906-9575.
Freaky Chic-y The footwear equivalent of ugly tomatoes are a year old, and instant hits with early adaptors including Brad Pitt and Sarasotans from 16 to 60. Sanuk’s Sidewalk Surfers with shoe uppers and sandal soles ($55) are flying out the door at Freaky Tiki, 1516 Main St., (941) 955-8454.
Skullduggery Fashionistas on the dark side of trendy wear hip, happening skulls on everything from Ed Hardy’s new jungle print tunic ($194) to crystal-studded Washed Up Hollywood belts ($129). Stitch Boutique, 1636 Main St., (941) 366-7268.]
Don’t forget to…
Indulge in 600-count Pratesi linens ($1,480 the king set). Coco Chanel designed the classic three-line or chain-stitch trim in the 1950s. Parker Robinson, 1521 Main St., (941) 366-3343.
De-stress like the top execs in town: Pretend the $5 Superfly Monkey puppet slingshots you distribute at board meetings are for the kids. Toy Lab, 1529 Main St., (941) 363-0064.
Check out works by Calder, Degas, Durer, Rembrandt and more at the new Foley’s Fine Art, where woodcuts date to the 15th century. Foley’s Fine Art, 1540 Main St., (941) 366-0525.
Get your fashion with passion and the trendiest stealth brands from English Laundry and Anama to AVVA and X-Ray. Phasion with Pashion, 1540 Main St., (941) 366-1710.
Break your diet for just one slice of the best pizza this side of Little Italy ($2 to $4 depending on toppings). Il Panificio, 1703 Main St., (941) 366-5570.
Sunburst mirrors add a touch of retro glamour.
Sun Worship This 43-inch beauty ($1,395) with gilt and black rays is Mexican-inspired. Robb & Stucky, 7557 S. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota (941) 922-2274.
Solar Science Owner-designer Lance Licciardi says the science of sunburst convex mirrors intrigued Colonial American homeowners, as did their mystical forms. Classic gold leaf 18-inch mirror is $275 at Madison Park Home Fashion Gallery, 80 S. Palm Ave., Sarasota (941) 953-9176.
Heavenly Body Whether you see it as star or sun, the layered rays of the 42-inch Galaxy mirror ($623) reflect gold and silver for dazzling interior spaces. Sarasota Collection Home Store, 622 Central Ave., Sarasota (941) 955-8313.
Milky Way We found a constellation of seven starburst mirrors at Main Street Traders, including this 37-inch contemporary interpretation carved from a single block of pale driftwood ($380). Main Street Traders, 1468 Main St., Sarasota (941) 373-0475.
Who’s In Store
Elizabeth Rice says she needs to be close to family, which explains why her eponymous (and world-class) art and antiques gallery opened on Sarasota’s Main Street 10 years ago. Now a quietly burgeoning retail empire (including FantaSea, Terra Nova and Vivid on St. Armands Circle and a FantaSea outpost in Lady Lake) ensures that Rice and husband/co-owner Paul Chren are here to stay.
The pair developed their business plan while living in San Francisco, deciding “to present products that focus on art and nature,” Rice explains. “We represent more than 50 artists from all over the world who create unique pieces with natural elements—seashells, coral, wood, cotton, linen, bone and stone.”
From pedigreed Biedermeier antiques to artisan-crafted clothing, jewelry and gifts, Rice and Chren’s concept of lifestyle art is a Sarasota natural. Elizabeth Rice Fine Art & Antiques, 1467 Main St., Sarasota; (941) 954-8575.
Shell-Stocked From pillows to picture frames and this mother-of-pearl jewel box ($450) topped with chambered nautilus shell, FantaSea celebrates the sea’s beauty. FantaSea, 345 St. Armands Circle, Sarasota (941) 388-3031.
Wearable Art Israeli artist Dori Csengeri’s necklace ($1,250) features silk cords, beads and semi-precious stones. Not your grandmother’s choker, and that’s the fun. Vivid, 349 St. Armands Circle, Sarasota (941) 388-4400.
Star Fruit Florida-based Randi Joe Grantham’s cast bronze fruit sculptures bear names like Passion Pear and Cherry Berry ($3,500). Liza Minnelli and Kenny G are fans. Terra Nova, 351 St. Armands Circle, Sarasota (941) 388-0410.
Art and Soul Sur La Table’s hot new line of kitchen tools is called Things Cooks Love, and it’s as irresistible as chocolate on Valentine’s Day. Hand-crafted by artisans in Italy, France and the U.S., the collection includes everything from basics (peelers, turners and spatulas from $12) to hard-to-find tools like the truffle/chocolate shaver ($40). Heirloom quality and dishwasher safe; the cook in your life will love them all. Sur La Table, 22 N. Lemon Ave., Sarasota (941) 365-0380.
Security System You’ll find Stokke’s cribs, changing tables and award-winning Xplory stroller ($799) at Kidz etc., where owner Geri Black shows how the Norwegian-made products grow with baby and create closer relationships between parent and child. Turn this amazing stroller’s seat to give baby eye contact with parent; raise it to table height at restaurants and to provide views more stimulating than on-coming feet. Kids etc., 4043 Clark Road, Sarasota (941) 923-4001; 14818 Tamiami Trail, North Port
Fearless Gear You don’t have to own a skateboard to collect Nike SB shoes: New models are released every month to feed the fervor. For the best selection this side of L.A., try the Compound’s newest branch on Clark Road. Custom skateboards will run you $120 to $200; the shock value of freaky sneakers ($60) in tartan plaid worn at the club après golf: priceless. The Compound Boardshop, 4063 Clark Road, Sarasota (941) 966-8877.
By Jill Obrochta
Red Carpet Ready
Pretty enough for the paparazzi. Red patent leather peep-toe wedge heels with delicate Gucci emblem. Strike a pose. Gucci. $510. Saks Fifth Avenue, 100 Southgate Plaza, Sarasota (941) 364-5300.
Paint the Town
In this heart-stopping lipstick that’s just the shade of passion—red enough for royalty. Created by a Euro-count and countess, and that’s not lip service. Sisley, #125 Rouge á Lèvres hydrating long-lasting lipstick. $50. Saks Fifth Avenue, 100 Southgate Plaza, Sarasota (941) 364-5300.
Caught Red Handed
Now don’t let go! Red satin evening bags with jeweled closure and Swarovski accents, yours for the taking. $89 each. Preston’s Boutique, 7628 S. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota (941) 922-1911.
Through rose-colored glasses. Swarovski crystals bedazzle these shades. Get noticed! $65. Preston’s Boutique, 7628 S. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota (941) 922-1911.
Little Miss Smarty Pants
Get ruffled in these sweet red rumbas. Delicate rows of lace grace undies that dare to be seen. So sexy. Honey Dew. $15. Sea Cup and Up, 1810 S. Osprey Ave., Sarasota (941) 951-2727.