WHERE I LIVE: Kim Mende Itskov’s Sheepshead Bay home brings her closer to husband’s Russian kin

Kim and husband Alex Itskov celebrating her birthday at a Brooklyn restaurant. Photo by Elton Lugay

Kim and husband Alex Itskov celebrating her birthday at a Brooklyn restaurant. Photo by Elton Lugay

By Cristina DC Pastor

Kimberly Mende Itskov lived in frenetic Midtown Manhattan for almost 10 years before experiencing the calm greenery of Forest Hills in Queens. Last year, she moved yet again to her third borough: Sheepshead Bay in Brooklyn, where “Curb Your Enthusiasm” comedian Larry David and former mobster Tomas Pitera grew up.

When her Nalchik-born mother-in-law decided to return to Russia last year, she turned over her apartment in Sheepshead Bay to Kim’s husband, making an offer the family could not resist: the house is theirs rent-free!

“Who would turn away a free, spacious apartment with backyard, garage and walking distance to many subway lines?” Who would indeed? Not Kim, savings-savvy mother of two girls and CEO of Philippine Pearl LLC, an entertainment management company. In Forest Hills, the Itskovs rented a luxury condo for $4K a month. All those savings danced in Kim’s eyes!

The oceanside community of Sheepshead Bay, a close neighbor to Brighton Beach, boasts a large Russian population. Here, Kim’s husband Alex is reconnected with his relatives. His Moscow-born father lives in the neighborhood. When the family has the craving for borscht and kebab there is always National, one of the first Russian restaurants in New York City, and Tatiana Grill – both eateries located in Brighton Beach.

“My husband was born and raised here in New York, and is of Russian descent. Most of his family is here in the neighborhood,” Kim said when interviewed by The FilAm. “Our neighborhood is mostly Russian, Italian and Asian.”

Curiously, she has not seen too many blacks or Hispanics around their neighborhood. Neither has she seen many Filipinos, which is somewhat of a negative because Kim is very active with the Filipino American community, organizing fundraisers, musical concerts and beauty pageants.

Kim shares the house with her husband, Alex, who is a foreign exchange trader, and two daughters. Jasmine is a ninth grader at Brooklyn Tech, a 30-minute commute by train. Caroline Love is enjoying her Pre-K at P.S. 254, which is a few blocks away from home.

The three-bedroom apartment is a block away from St. Mark’s Roman Catholic Church. “Hearing the bells toll every hour is beautiful music to my ears,” said Kim.

Groceries, pharmacies, and gas stations are all just a few short blocks away. Practically everything the family needs is within walking distance.

Kim’s favorite places are the marina and Manhattan Beach, where the family gets to feed the birds. It takes a 15-minute walk to get to Manhattan Beach from where they live.

What’s it like living in a community of Russian immigrants?

No huge difference from living among Filipinos, laughed Kim. They are family-oriented and can be quite rambunctious in a party. “They can also be quite snobby if they do not know you, just like us,” she added.

“Sheepshead Bay is a very safe place to raise children,” said Kim, pleased to be in a neighborhood where the biggest felony is probably car theft. “Crime is not a big concern in our neighborhood. Overall, I am not afraid to walk alone at night or to allow my children outside to play.”

‘Where I Live’ is a new section in The FilAm where Filipinos provide a snapshot of their neighborhoods while giving us a glimpse into their borough or suburban lives. WIL pries open the sprawling maze that is the New York metropolitan area – from NYC to New Jersey, Connecticut and Northern Pennsylvania — where Filipinos find their homes, raise their families and live their ideal of the American Dream.

Caroline Love feeding the birds…

Caroline Love feeding the birds…

...and enjoying the park with sister Jasmine

…and enjoying the park with sister Jasmine

A rare, quiet moment at her Brooklyn home

A rare, quiet moment at her Brooklyn home

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