Even the merest trifle takes on special significance when wrapped in one of the beautiful gift papers form the MFA gift shop. 465 Huntington Ave., Boston, MA .
With several choices up for grabs each day, from strawberry-rhubarb to peanut butter-fudge, this Somerville diner deserves props for the breadth of its pie program alone. But don't worry: The quality matches the quantity. Blueberry-crumble nails the fruit-to-topping ratio, packing in plenty of fresh berries, while the silky mocha-cream is so decadent, we ate until well past full. 381 Summer St., Somerville, MA 02144, rosebudkitchen.com.
A manicure by Maria Rodriguez is, hands down, a tour de force. Her perfectionist's eye to detail (from clipping and buffing to lengthy hand massages) is impeccable, her conversation keeps the process interesting, and her easygoing demeanor makes the often-impossible task of choosing the perfect color a cinch. She takes the extra time to make sure nails are dry, offers pointers on how to sustain manicures, and sees to it that every singer, by the time leaves her table, feels positively regal. 9 Newbury St., Boston, MA mariorusso.com/.
It's no wonder Gisele Bundchen stops at Pawsh with her handsome Yorkie: The couture collection of doggie apparel and upscale grooming services makes the daily walk look more like a runway strut. There are necessities like nail clipping and tooth cleaning, but there's also an assortment of healthy organic treats, and two-legged customers are rewarded with dog food delivery and a return program for chewed-through toys. 31 Gloucester St., Boston, MA 2115, pawshboston.com.
Word to the wise: Arrive at least 15 minutes before your appointment, because you’ll need extra time to choose from Bellacquer’s seemingly endless wall of colors—more than 1,500 hues, actually. Once you’ve picked your polish, it’s time to move on to the pampering, administered by technicians who wield a nail file and cuticle trimmer with particular precision. Salon connoisseurs will appreciate the blissful hot-stone massage that comes standard with each classic pedicure. 1389 Beacon St., Brookline, MA bellacquer.com.
Jill Goldberg's four-year-old shop perfectly captures the new Boston aesthetic: a charming balance of country chic (whitewashed woods, salvaged signs), old-money signifiers (vintage French settees), and a touch of modern chrome. Few homeowners can nail the upscale-casual look without a pro's help—Goldberg offers styling services, too—but a couple of well-placed items from Hudson are an excellent start. 12 Union Park St., Boston, MA 2118, hudsonboston.com.
After clomping around the city for a few years, our Italian-leather boots were in dire need of a makeover. "Oy. You must really love these,' said this shop's proprietor as he noticed the wood and nails poking through the heels. He tenderly brought them back to life in just three days, and our boots were again ready to strut their stuff. Boston, MA
Valet parking and reservations? In the North End? Absolutely, at this house of refined and authentic Italian cooking tucked away in North Square. Better still, it's perfect for large parties, thanks to well-timed service and tables spaced just far enough apart to provide both privacy and a jolt of the room's energy. Add Rockwellian views of the neighborhood, the menu's mix of traditional and creative dishes, a diverse wine list, and you've got large-party dining nailed. 3 North Square, Boston, MA mammamaria.com/.
The very idea of being stressed out on Nantucket may seem absurd. But when it happens, rush to the relaxing world of Tresses, where anxieties evaporate into the salty air. Tresses provides superb treatments for hair, body, skin, and nails in an environment that's fresh, sunny, and—most of all—soothing. From hot stone massages to seaweed wraps, Tresses tames and beautifies even the most frazzled travelers. It's like a vacation from your vacation. 117 Pleasant St., Nantucket, MA nantucketspa.com/.
The pro groomers at this cheerful canine emporium consult with customers to determine the right cut and style before brushing out, shampooing, conditioning, trimming, and drying each pooch to perfection—nail clipping and ear cleaning are included, but parents of truly pampered pups can opt for aromatherapy or massage add-ons. Bark Place also offers elevated DIY wash stations should your grass-rolling, dirt-digging pal need a bath between appointments. 1721 Washington St., Boston, MA 2118, barkplacesouthend.com.
This polish empire continues its expansion in the Bay State and beyond, and for good reason. A “Clean Lab” sterilizes all equipment to hospital-level sparkle. The atmosphere is minimalist yet warm (picture a chemistry lab combined with a Zen hideout). Services are streamlined, too: Instead of doing it all, they smartly focus on manis, pedis, and waxing. What can we say? MiniLuxe nails it. Prudential Center, 776 Boylston St., Boston, MA 02199, miniluxe.com.
Some resort-town spas tend to get a little hectic at times, making relaxation a nail-biting endeavor. The Dan'l Webster offers complete serenity, along with uninterrupted pampering in the form of Chakra massage, hot lava pedicures, and, for those who forgot their SPF 45, a sunburn body treatment. Because the last thing you want to need after a day at the spa is another day at the spa. 149 Main St., Sandwich, MA 2563, danlwebsterinn.com.
Bella sante strikes the right combination of peaceful spa (fruit-infused water, plush furnishings) and briskly run business (in and done in half an hour). Technicians prune and preen nails into such pristine condition it's almost a shame to cover them with polish — but those who do will walk out with lacquered tops strong enough to endure several days worth of wear and tear. 38 Newbury St., Boston, MA 2116, bellasante.com.
We have one strategy when it comes to the manicure: Get in and out as fast as possible. Unfortunately, speedy service at many salons can come at the expense of quality—and cleanliness. Which is why it's MiniLuxe for us. The technicians here rub germ-killing sanitizer on mitts and briskly file, buff, and sculpt nails with new and autoclave-sterilized instruments. Then there's the flawless polish application—one that lasts for a full week (no UV light required). 296 Newbury St., Boston, MA 2116, miniluxe.com.
Like sugar-free diets, most manicures rarely last the week. Inna Klim's, on the other hand, have major staying power. The 12-year g2o veteran whips gnarly cuticles into shape, buffs and moisturizes nails and hands, and finishes it all off with high-grade lacquers. Her newly revamped, cavernous digs with soft, cushioned seats and a window view of passersby polishes off an entirely enjoyable experience. 338 Newbury St., Boston, MA 2116, g2ospasalon.com.