Haute Secrets Boston: Donna Garlough, Style Director of Joss & Main

Joss & Main in Copley Square has what it takes to stand out in terms of great style, thanks to style director Donna Garlough, former lifestyle editor of Boston magazine. In her new role, she helps the team come up with new ideas and trends for products, curating content and hand-picking pieces for any room makeover.

Donna GarloughPhoto Credit: Joyelle West

She has also worked with celebrities like Julianne Hough to transform their homes into beautiful spaces.

Donna GarloughPhoto Credit: Rodrigo Lizarraga

We caught up recently with Garlough to find out what she loves most about Boston.

Where were you born: Los Angeles, CA

How long in Boston:  First moved here in 2001, so 15 years.

Neighborhood: Charlestown

Occupation: Style Director at Joss & Main, previously lifestyle editor at Boston Magazine

Favorite Restaurant: The restaurant I recommend most to friends and visitors is, without a doubt, Eastern Standard. It’s all-purpose: brunch, dinner, business meetings, late-night, cocktails, catching up with out-of-town guests. The bar is one of the city’s best, and the wee patio is a delight on warm days (and even cool ones, when the heaters are on).

Best Sushi: When cost is no object? O Ya, hands down. Sitting at the chef’s counter and watching them apply gold leaf to your food with scientific precision or lacquer your fish with ponzu is just mesmerizing. I also need to get back to Oishii in the South End—I haven’t been there for a few years, and it’s both a hidden gem and a classic. If we’re talking casual Japanese, I love anything from the “torched” section of Douzo’s menu.

Best Italian: Ugh, I recently went low-carb for a few weeks, so I’m dreaming about pasta day and night. For handmade gnocchi and ravioli, Prezza in the North end is a go-to, and chef Anthony Caturano doesn’t mess around with the roasted meats, either. For all-around energy, I love Nebo. I could sit at the high-tops at the bar all day, drinking Campari cocktails and working my way through the Neapolitan-style pizzas. For homestyle fare, I don’t think you can top Il Casale in Belmont. I love chef Dante’s restaurant in Cambridge, but there’s something about the rustic cooking at his Belmont spot that just satisfies.

Best dessert: Baked Alaska with mango and coconut sorbet at Trade.

Best place for a romantic date: Drinks and snacks at Hawthorne. It was designed by residential design team Alison & Stephen Sheffield, and they made it feel like you’re at a chic party in a gorgeous house. There are all of these cozy little nooks and corners for intimate chats.

Best Sunday brunch: Bloody Marys, breakfast poutine, and biscuits with sausage gravy at the Gallows. Wear stretchy pants.

Best place for a power business meeting: I love having dinner meetings at Bistro du Midi. It’s a nice alternative to the typical martini-and-steak venue. The parkside location is great, the service is reliably attentive but not obtrusive, and the wine list has some quirky, interesting choices-–always a great conversation starter. It’s also a little noisy, in a good way. You can have private conversations without feeling like the folks at the next table are listening in.

If you have out of town guests, which hotel would you recommend? Hotel Commonwealth is a crowd-pleaser. It’s big, so it’s not impossible to get a room, and everyone likes being right by Fenway Park. It also houses two of my favorite eateries: ESK, and Island Creek Oyster Bar.

Favorite shopping venue/boutique: Is it cliché to say the South End? I’m so over malls, strip malls, and outlets. On a day off, I want to wander curated boutiques like Hudson, Willey, Niche Urban Garden Supply, and Follain.  

Favorite place to buy jewelry/watches: My jewelry collection is dismal—I’m more likely to splurge on something shiny for my home, like my ridiculous range hood or a vintage crystal chandelier. But my husband’s go-to for gifts is DePrisco. He loves picking out a little something from the estate collection.

Best Spa: The Mandarin Oriental. As soon as you arrive, they come out with a tray of tea and trade your street shoes for slippers. The relaxation room is so serene—I’d nap there every afternoon if I could.

Favorite Charity Event: The MFA summer party is epic. People dress so vibrantly, and the setting is magic. And since it’s summer, everyone’s always in a festive mood.

Favorite Cultural Event: The Christmas concert from the Boston Gay Men’s Chorus. Just go.

Favorite Cultural Institution: This one’s also at Christmastime, but it has to be the Opera House during the run of the Nutcracker. I will take my daughter every year from now until eternity.

Best Steakhouse:  If I’m craving steak, I’d so much rather have a bavette steak frites at Gaslight, with an interesting glass from the all-French wine list. Or, good Lord, the bavette at Shepard. That was one of the best cuts I’ve ever had.

Best Pizza: Pizza comes in so many forms, so it’s hard to compare. I might give my all-around medal to Picco. It’s a flavorful, blistered, chewy crust that’s very Neapolitan in spirit, even if they’re not shouting about their pizzaiolos’ cerfiticates or pedigree. Plus, they have amazing ice cream. I’m powerless against their cinnamon ice cream.

Best Lunch: Sportello. It feels like a chic lunch counter in Milan, and I always run into someone I know.

Best Gym/Athletic Facility: Every time I feel fat and decide to get fit, I re-join Equinox-ha! But the best program I’ve done, with the most lasting results, has been bootcamp with DareU Fitness. It meets just a block from my home, at the Bunker Hill monument, and owner/trainer Tim Khanoyan is the best. He has us throwing ropes around, bear-crawling up the hills, and doing exercises with horrendous names like Bulgarian Split Squats. My butt just got smaller thinking about it. 

Best Massage: One more shout out to the Mandarin here. The massages and scrubs use heavenly, exotic oils, so you leave feeling and smelling amazing.

Best Limousine/Driving Service: Uber all day, every day.

Best Museum/Exhibit: I love focused, small museums, and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum is one of my favorites anywhere. It’s eclectic, eccentric, and while the mystery of the stolen art is so frustrating, there’s something so haunting about seeing the empty frames where the missing pieces used to sit. Come February, there’s no place in the city I’d rather be than in the Gardner’s lush, greenery-filled courtyard, or walking through the cloisters.

Describe Boston in three words: Smart. Intimate. Charming.

Favorite historic/legendary place to see or explore: Does the inside of the Warren Tavern count?

All-around favorite spot in Boston:  On the ferry from Charlestown to Long Wharf, and seeing the city from the sea.

Best Aspect of Boston: The combination of landscape and hardscape: Water meets brick. I find our city’s connection to the sea endlessly fascinating. Also, I like oysters.