More than 30 years after its inception, Cactus Salon & Spa and its team of continually educated stylists have not lost their edge?they earned the Long Island Press's designation as Best Hair Salon and Best Day Spa in 2011 and 2012. It's not surprising, then, that the salon has enjoyed such impressive growth over the years, with more than two dozen separate spa and salon locations.
Although hair is still the focus?stylists craft 'dos that reflect everyday ease or fashion-forward thinking?the repertoire has expanded to include everything from nail treatments and massages to permanent cosmetics and laser services. Since the roster is so broad, many clients take advantage of Cactus Club memberships, which give them the flexibility to try multiple services and products by deactivating the force fields between treatment rooms and granting a 33% discount on Sunday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.
Inflated structures, slides, and games fill the climate-controlled environment of the numerous Bounce U locations that speckle the nation. At each site, staff members closely monitor all activities as little ones traverse obstacle courses such as the spider climb or duke it out in the gun alley. The crew also invites parents to join in on the fun, letting them bounce alongside their kids or make sweeping edicts from atop a bouncy-castle throne. In addition to open sessions, the indoor-play haven sets the stage for the Preschool Playdate program, where instructors lead games and activities. Special events include family-bounce night, which lets parents join in the bouncing or relax in the party room.
For 25 years, Long Island's crew has made bagels using an old-fashioned water-kettle approach, purveying the doughy treats well beyond their breakfast boundaries. A menu of breakfast edibles urges early eaters to slather an assortment of hand-rolled, freshly baked bagels ($0.90)—in varieties including poppy, onion, cinnamon raisin, and oat bran—with their choice of up to 17 creamy toppers ($1.75+) including vegetable, chocolate chip, and roasted garlic and herb. Coffee ($1.45+/12 oz.) gives nerves the jolt that early-morning fire breathing fails to provide, and french toast lightens spirits when drizzled in streams of liquefied giggles ($5.50). Lunch options allow midday munchers to fill their food processors with dishes including the Bubbalicious ($6.79)—made with fried chicken cutlets, melted mozzarella, bacon, and spicy barbecue sauce, all piled on top of a bagel—or the more heart-heartening bagel-embedded tuna fresco salad ($6.49).
During Group and Cuddles and Strokes swim sessions, the aqua aces at Saf-T-Swim equip bipeds with the skills and safety techniques necessary for conquering liquid-filled lands. Group classes sport student/instructor ratios as small as four to one, giving each floater more personalized attention as he or she learns to glide through the water more gracefully than a troupe of manatee ballerinas. Buyers can purchase multiple Groupons to allow families and friends to gain aqueous footing in the same welcoming environment among their peers and other swim scholars.
There’s love in Fanny Cakes: love for baking, love for surprising the tongue, and love for family. As a young girl, chef Kristyn spent long days baking alongside her nana, Fanny. Those hours spent in flour and those moments waiting by the oven planted seeds in Kristyn that sprouted into a passion for baking and, eventually, the start of Fanny Cakes—named in honor of the woman who inspired her. Kristyn now relies on formal culinary training as well as the lessons learned from her nana while she crafts personalized treats for birthday parties, wedding receptions, and everything in between. She pays further homage to her nana as she works by using the sorts of ingredients Fanny loved—sweet creamery butter, belgian chocolate, and natural citrus zests—but finds inventive and eye-catching ways to showcase their flavors.
The fondant-draped tiers of Kristyn's full-size cakes conceal flavorful fillings such as lime curd or coconut custard. Cupcakes also feature inspired combinations, such as strawberry daiquiri with rum-spiked buttercream and snickerdoodle with a dusting of graham crackers and cinnamon sugar. Even with all of these flavors speaking for themselves, Kristyn still commits to presentation, designing cakes shaped like everything from a Gulfstream jet to an electric guitar. She also expands her menu beyond traditional bakery offerings by creating treats such as grown-up cake shots with doses of liqueur and cupcake push pops in plastic cylinders. She even shares her techniques with the public by leading classes that teach students how to decorate cupcakes without covering them in old two-cent stamps.
Ragazzi Italian Kitchen and Bar strives to capture the spirit of a Mediterranean trattoria. The chefs make everything from gnocchi and pesto to meatballs and mozzarella in-house. These homespun ingredients lend their flavors to classic dishes such as veal parmigiana and angel hair fra diavolo with shrimp, scallops, and calamari. Meanwhile, they let their imaginations run free on the small plates, including Italian-style spring rolls and sushi-like creations made using imported prosciutto, pine nuts, and fragrant herbs. Familiar items from each side of the Atlantic?from cannoli to homemade apple cobbler?also appear throughout a dessert selection that The New York Times hailed as "wonderful."
Ragazzi Italian Kitchen and Bar's decor echoes the warm, inviting spirit of its menu. Semicircular booths line the dining room's stone walls and dark wooden tables gleam beneath the rows of light bulbs hanging from the ceiling. In addition to the indoor seating, Ragazzi Italian Kitchen and Bar also features an outdoor patio that opens during the warmer months. In shade provided by umbrellas, diners can enjoy a meal while savoring the sights of the surrounding foliage and the hot-air balloons migrating north for the summer.