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At 75, Pleasantville Barber Still as Sharp as His Scissors

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By Jessie Jafet
Pleasantville barber
Pleasantville barber Alfonso Magnotta (photo by Todd Shapera)

Following in the footsteps of his now 97-year-old father who worked as a barber until the age of 92, Alfonso Magnotta of Pleasantville Barber Shop on Wheeler Avenue has devoted his life to the same trade — cutting and trimming each customer’s hair with precision and care.

Magnotta, who immigrated to the United States at age 19 from a town near Naples, Italy, just celebrated his 75th birthday on November 7 and still loves his job — a craft that he said he began to learn when he was 13 or 14 years old at his father’s shop. He then bought his own barbershop in the Bronx, back when haircuts cost $2.50, and ran it for many years before deciding in 2001 to join his father, who was working at Pleasantville Barber Shop — and has remained working there ever since.

“When I came here, I liked the place, I liked the people — they are really nice people,” Magnotta said. “The community is fantastic; it seems like a great place to live and there are so many children here. It is a very down-to-earth town with great restaurants.”

Gavriel Yakubov, the shop’s owner since 2010, said that having a barber like Alfonso Magnotta on his team is something special. “He is easy-going, with a great sense of humor; always the center of the show, making sure that people are laughing and feeling comfortable,” Yakubov said. “Customers that have been with him for over 20 years still come to see him.”

Magnotta recognized that his job is often much more than just providing a fresh cut, hot shave, beard trim, or keeping up with the latest styles. The work naturally includes a lot of good conversation and interaction with people. “You know, I should have been a psychologist — people will tell me their life stories,” he said. “You get to know their kids; you see them growing up and there is great enjoyment when you finish with a customer and they are happy.”  

Magnotta (left) with Pleasantville Barber Shop owner Gavriel Yakubov (photo by Todd Shapera)

His loyal customers feel the same way and seem to appreciate the relationship, according to Todd Shapera, who said sitting in Magnotta’s chair is inspiring on many levels. 

“He’s an artist with his scissors, razor, and comb – cleaning up his clients’ scruffy heads seemingly effortlessly and intuitively, and pulls this off with an old-world gift of gab — making engaging conversation, without prying, gossip, or veering into the divisive hot buttons of the day.”

The affable barber said he plans to stay working a while longer, although perhaps not as long as his father did. A father of two who has been married for 51 years, Magnotta said he is now simply enjoying his enduring career and the warm connections he has with his clients. 

“They make me feel good — when you go home you don’t have any stress, that is why I work,” he said.

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