Best Of Philly: Service 2006

Urban pet sitter
The Monster Minders
As cute as the critters they care for, Carrie and Lindsay Maria have taken less than a year to become the speed-dialed sitters of choice for east of Broad “monster” owners. The couple — she’s local, he’s a New Zealander — are known for granting last-minute and special-needs requests, and for leaving silly “what I did while my owner was on vacation” notes on kitchen tables. $15 per half-hour visit; $20 per hour visit; The Monster Minders, 215-925-1119;

Computer fixer
Micro Cente
r St. Davids Computers seem to malfunction under only two conditions: when you’re on a deadline, and when you’ve neglected to back up your files. Thankfully, Micro Center offers technical support for minor software issues and on-site repair for all major brands, whether you’ve got a fried motherboard or just need to swap out a worn hard drive. 550 East Lancaster Avenue, St. Davids, 610-989-8400;

Car wash
Duke’s Firehose
Touchless, softcloth, brushless and other safe washing systems are everywhere, having replaced the paint-finish-abusing bristle brushes decades ago. But an architecturally clever car wash that even Rafael Viñoly would find amusing? Only Duke’s can make that claim. Along with playful design comes a great wash and attention to often-overlooked touches like drying the doorjambs. And in a classy gesture, tipping isn’t permitted. 1269 DeKalb Pike, Blue Bell, 610-292-9274; 535 Lancaster Avenue, Frazer, 610-296-9000;

Al Filippone Electrical Contractors
Whether you need someone to rewire your circa-1842 West Philly Victorian or hang that Swarovski chandelier in your Villanova mini-manse, Al Filippone and his crew — all bonded and insured in the Greater Philadelphia area — will handle the job quickly and won’t jerk you around on the price. Plus, they actually show up when they say they will, and clean up after themselves — a contractor first. 6700 Guyer Avenue; 215-783-3844.

Glass shower door and mirror installer
Gordon & Sons Glass and Mirrors
This family biz has no Gordons, only Bermans. (Gordon is the name of the previous owners.) Dad Howard handles sales and on-site measuring, and mom Barbara runs the office. But it’s son Evan’s perfectionism that sets them apart — when he’s finished hanging a shower door, the door edge and wall will have a closer fit than the space between fender and hood on your new CL600 coupe. 2640 East Lehigh Avenue, 215-627-4032;

Way to get tickets
John’s Ticket Service Owner
John Del Rossi is proud of the impeccable reputation he’s earned after more than 35 years in the sometimes murky world of ticket procurement. Whether it’s prime seats to Springsteen or 76ers playoff tickets (should we ever again see post-season play), John is a nonsense-free, straight-dealing source who should have you sitting close to the action. 603 Browning Lane, Brooklawn, 215-463-7572;

Concierge and errand service
Too Little Time Lifestyle Services
Too busy, like Eagles linebacker Dhani Jones, tackling opponents? Do like Dhani and rely on this “lifestyle management” service. They do it all, from overseeing moves to organizing closets. Maybe you want your shar-pei to attend your Four Seasons wedding? Denise Baron and her staff will provide a smartly dressed attendant to shepherd your dog, with nary a bark to interrupt the ceremony. 157 North 3rd Street, 215-629-9098;

Brake service
Elite Auto Service
Fadi Cherfane and his brother Robert run this congenial Mercedes, BMW, Jaguar and Porsche shop with such a friendly and accommodating spirit that heading over the Ben Franklin into Pennsauken to replace a screeching set of disc brake pads may actually seem like a pleasure drive. And with 15-plus repair lifts, they can usually service your car within a day or two. 4200 Strand Avenue, Pennsauken; 856-486-1830.

Car stereo installation
Goodman Radio
The last few years have been tough for car stereo installers; almost every vehicle now comes loaded with a decent system, and often has a digital satellite receiver to boot. But if you’ve got a classic Ferrari that longs to be tricked out with concert-hall-quality sound, or need to integrate your new iPod into your dashboard controls, seek out Gary Goodman, and have him install the newest technology from such leaders as Alpine. 712 Lancaster Avenue, Bryn Mawr, 610-525-2836;

Hardwood floors
B’s Hardwood Floors
You’ll be a little uneasy, going over oak floor samples out of B’s slightly beat-up van. And B himself won’t offer up much reassuring chitchat. But go ahead and make a pick and set a date, and sure enough, his fleet of workers will arrive at your house — exactly on time. And faster than you could have imagined, your floors will glisten in a way you never knew wood could, all for a bit less than the guy with the fancy van would charge. 4440 Sansom Street; 215-387-2643.

Muffler service
Mega Auto Pro Experts
in custom installations and tricked-out dual exhaust systems, Mega will still bring its pipe-bending skills to the most mundane Toyota Corolla muffler replacement. 4415 New Falls Road, Levittown, 215-269-9182;

Furniture repairer
Windsor Wood Service Sure
, cassoulet baked in a cast-iron cocotte is a great dish — until you set the sizzling hot casserole on your inlaid walnut table, mistakenly thinking that a thin tablecloth will protect the finish. To battle furniture abuse, Windsor Wood has two fully equipped vans for emergency house calls, and what can’t be fixed on-site will go back to the shop for more intensive repairs. 140 Domorah Drive, Montgomeryville, 215-853-1800;

Auto detailing
Wheelworks Wheelworks
pays careful attention to the tiniest things, so even the dust in the corners of your dashboard vents will be eliminated. Also on offer: paintless dent removal for those inevitable door-panel dings inflicted by pesky runaway shopping carts in the Target parking lot. 798 Welsh Road, Huntingdon Valley, 215-947-8927;

Anthony Cocco
Anthony Cocco Jr. crafts upholstery using old-school methods and materials — horsehair and down-filled pillows, hand-tied springs — to achieve a seating comfort rarely found with today’s simplified methods. And if you’ve got special requirements — say you’re six-foot-seven and can’t find a comfortable sofa — Cocco will build you an extra-deep model, so your long limbs can rest easy. 529 Spring Garden Street; 215-629-4100.

Junk removal
Joe Sinni Removal Services
Hauling trash is hauling trash, right? Two beefy guys show up, usually late, with a dilapidated truck, load your junk, and leave, hopefully not damaging your freshly painted walls in the process. Joe Sinni is different. Always on time, meticulous about sweeping up and leaving your place spotless, he also does minor demolition work — like pulling up a glued-down linoleum floor in preparation for that new Carrara marble one. Conshohocken; 610-220-7831.

Tire change
Valley Forge Tire & Auto
With 12 Delaware Valley locations, it has enough tire-buying power that you’ll get great prices and likely find the tire you want in stock, yet it’s still small enough to have a personal, hands-on approach to customer service. 888-903-TIRE;

Local mover
A. Mastrocco Jr. Moving & Storage
Tony and his crew actually like difficult moves. Their no-complaints, can-do attitude toward such tough jobs as carrying an oversize 102-inch sofa up 11 flights of stairs is rare. He’s expensive, but extremely careful; that’s why high-end furniture dealers like Old City’s OLC rely on him to deliver to their finicky customers. After all, if you’re paying nearly four grand for a Max Aalto dining table, you don’t want even the tiniest scratch marring the finish. 1060 Louis Drive, Warminster; 215-444-9329.

Custom furniture
Rossi Brothers Cabinetmakers
If you buy a single English Windsor armchair at auction and need eight side chairs and an additional armchair to match, this shop is the choice. Unlike some of the competition, every component is made in-house (except hardware, of course), including special carving work to match that cabriole leg on your beloved dining table. 1805 North Howard Street; 215-426-9960.

Travel planner
Via Travel Design
Lori and James Redmond don’t book airline tickets, rental cars or even hotel rooms. Their niche is finding and renting superb vacation homes in Italy. They have a passion for travel, food and good wine — each year they spend a few months overseas looking for properties and restaurants to recommend. One recent find: La Casaccia, in Pienza in southern Tuscany, sleeps 19 and features a fabulous chef-in-residence. Perfect for that relaxing family reunion. 7458 Devon Street, 215-248-2570;

Urban garden designer
Toni Ann Flanigan
Stop coveting those picture-perfect Society Hill window boxes, and hire the genius who’s likely behind them: Toni Ann Flanigan. The ultimate urban gardener had 3,500 pots of annuals delivered to her house this past spring for her flower-box projects. Flanigan is also busy landscaping for developer Allan Domb and hosting seminars at Design Within Reach. Whatever your budget, she’s the woman to call for help starting — and maintaining — your urban oasis. 662 West Johnson Street, 215-951-9193,

Towing service
AAA Plus
Unlike local towing firms, which charge by the mile — and are prohibitively costly if you break down far from home — AAA Plus’s yearly membership fee includes towing for up to 100 miles. So if you get stuck somewhere between the Ben Franklin Bridge and the Meatpacking District en route to Morimoto NY, AAA will come to the rescue, haul your car back to Philly, and let you go on with your Morimotini-fueled plans. 866-636-2377;

Honest mechanics
D&O Automotive
What impresses us more than this shop’s experience is its honesty and refreshing “neighborhood store” mentality: Drop your car off for service, and D&O will drive it back to your house (assuming you live nearby), tuck a way-reasonable, not-at-all-inflated bill in your mailbox, and trust that you’ll come settle the tab. 15 Holland Avenue, Ardmore; 610-896-5581.

Pest control
Baxter Pest Control
The motto is brutal: “God creates. We exterminate.” But the service is impeccable. Using the most up-to-date techniques, owner Jonathan Baxter-Johnson and his crew will put the fear of God in whatever’s driving you crazy: termites, ants, bedbugs, even the occasional raccoon. 800-398-3764;