Douglas Elliman realtor Maria Rovegno likes to say, “Long Island is the place where everything is happening.” It’s hard to disagree. There’s easy access to the beach and the City, international and American cuisine, entertainment and beauty all around. Rovegno shared tips for making the most of life on Long Island with Pulse.
Tell me a bit about your pre-real estate life.
Before beginning my real estate career in 1987, I was teaching at the Early Childhood Center at Brooklyn College. I was training student teachers who were about to embark on their careers in the world of education. I loved my work but hated the commute, which was daunting.
How did you get into real estate?
I had purchased my home in Plandome Manor through Helen Sharf who owned Town and Country Real Estate, one of the few real estate companies at the time owned and run by a woman. From the day I signed a contract on my home, she would call me periodically and entreat me to come and work with her. She felt that with my people skills, I was a natural and she may have been correct.
How does your previous work in education help you in your current role?
My previous job in education was a training ground for me in the study of people. I was assessing their needs and helping them to achieve their goals. It’s all the same: Helping people to define their goal and then to reach it. One is achieving their profession of teaching and the other is achieving the goal of a correct fit and a perfect home.
What is your favorite part of your job?
My favorite part of my job is meeting new people, assessing their needs and cutting to the chase of either the right purchase or getting a home ready for sale. Over the years I have assembled my own list of everything from designers to architects to mortgage people, tradesman, etc. I call it “Maria’s List.” It’s always good to have the right people when in need.
What are some of the best towns to live on Long Island and what makes them so great?
The best towns for me are the bedroom communities of Port Washington, Manhasset and Great Neck. You not only have an amazing commute but access to our beautiful ever-changing waterfront and spectacular sunsets. Of course, all towns have their own cache but these three towns are geographically unique. I am also in love with the Hamptons and have been going since the early 70s, first as a tourist and now as a resident. I believe that Long Island has so much to offer from the hills and dales of the North Shore to the world-renowned beaches of our South Shore. This Island has it all.
What is your favorite thing about living on Long Island?
My favorite thing about living on Long Island is the amazing topography that never stops surprising me. In fact, I discovered Bellport last summer while taking an alternate route to Southampton. I was excited to explore a new town on the South Shore, one I’d never seen before. On the way, I passed the salt marshes of Amityville, which were absolutely amazing.
On the North Shore, the water pods on the causeway to Lloyd Neck are otherworldly looking like they were deposited by extraterrestrials. There is no end to what the glaciers left us on this magnificent Long island.
What is the biggest mistake people make when they look to buy a home and how can they avoid them?
They have their wish list and their must have list. I try to guide prospective buyers that there is no perfection and once they buy a home they can make it their own and reach for perfection with a little help from the “Maria List.” I always leave my buyers with a local services list which include some of our great restaurants.
Speaking of dining out, where are some of your favorite places to eat?
Eating on Long Island can be a fun feast for the senses. My favorite local haunts are Salvatore’s Coal Oven Pizza—the BEST! Piccola Liguria is amazing with a mile long menu. Yamaguchi in Port is another favorite. Ristorante Da Claudio in Glen Cove is a new discovery (formerly La Pace) and has fabulous oxtail sauce over fresh pasta.
Seafood abounds on the South shore. I love the restaurants in and around the Fire Island Ferry slip, they always always the freshest catch of the day.
The North Fork also has some great ones like Farm Country Kitchen in Riverhead. The food is fabulous.
Where else can we find you hanging out?
For entertainment, I love going to Jeanne Rimsky Theater at the former Main Street School in Port Washington. I recently saw monologist and social commentator Fran Lebowitz who was so smart and so informative and so funny. Tilles Center is another wonderful destination. I love the Nassau County Museum of Art. For kids, the Science Museum of Long Island in Plandome Manor is a treasure. It provides wonderful hands-on programs for children of all ages. The turn-of-the-century building is set on a bluff overlooking Manhasset Bay.
What’s the one item in your home you can’t live without?
The one thing I can’t live without in my home is my art and if I had to make a choice I’d have to take my antique marble torso. It reminds me of Venus de Milo. I smile almost every time I pass it and think how sad I’d be without it.