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Christine's Atlantic Highlands NJ (Old AMA location)

jrvedivici Dec 5, 2012 07:18 AM

Went here last night after hearing a bit of "buzz" for awhile about this place. It has been opened just about a month....for those of you who remember Ama nothing has really changed same "cozy" environment....even same color linens I believe.

We arrived around 7:30 there were 2 other tables in the place.....which for that new/size place on a Tuesday night isn't unexpected. We were greeted by the owner/chef Ron.....who sat us and introduced us to the waiter Ron...(For further purposes will be referred to as Ron2)

Ron2 greeted us as well and told use the specials...this is a BYOB so I did BYOB....and Ron2 offered us soda/mixers and informed us of the specials. After a minute or two Ron (no 2 so this is the chef/owner...try to keep track people) came over to let us know it was Ron2's first day and he had forgotten to inform us of one special which was a pounded Veal Chop Christine. The menu is rather simple.....nothing very adventurous on there one exception as an appetizer were Italian Egg Rolls...traditional Chinese egg roll shell or casing stuffed with 3 cheeses sausage and broccoli rabe.

Quiz: How do you get a fat man to eat broccoli of any kind????
Answer: Surround it with 3 cheeses and sausage and deep fry it!!

WOW let me tell you something.....this app alone will keep me coming back. Plate drizzled with balsamic reduction and served with a side of marinara. Delicious !!!!

We split/shared an antipasti salad it says on the menu served with Italian cured meats. It didn't say they were chopped and "in" the salad instead of sliced individually. Served with what I assume was the same balsamic reduction as drizzled on the app plate....it was very good even though not what I expected.

Entree's my friend ordered a NY Strip Steak special medium and I ordered the Veal Chop Christine. Food was served after a few minute break after the salad......presentation was nice the veal chop was pounded nice and thin on the bone. The steak was honestly just average....nothing wrong nothing great. I said to my buddy he was a dope for ordering a steak at a place like this. But it was what it was......in my opinion a dumb order. The Veal Chop Christine was excellent although I didn't care for the sauce. This is just stating personal opinion I'm not going to sit here and bash the dish just because I didn't care for the pairing of the veal chop with the lemony almost picatta type sauce it was served with. (Minus any capers) The veal chop itself was EXCELLENT....and next time I would try it prepared another way.

No desert but I ordered a espresso and was offered and excepted a sambucca on the house.

All in all it is a good place and I would go back......although BYOB"s aren't my thing if I'm in the mood I would certainly go back and would recommend it. Great Italian food for there area which is rather thin in that dining option. Not as pretentious or pricey as AMA. Ron is a genuinely nice guy and has that nervous new owner energy about him which I can appreciate.

http://www.christinesitaliandining.co...

  1. z
    zidecar Aug 8, 2013 05:15 AM

    After reading everyone's commentary about Christine's, I finally went there on Tuesday for dinner with my DH. I am so glad I did! For starters we had the Italian Eggroll and the Tuna special. As others have already said - the eggroll is delicious. While I would have liked the tuna closer to raw it was a very tasty dish and I found the portion size to be generous. We also enjoyed thengarlic bread which was served with roasted peppers and garlic on the side. Then I had the soft shell crabs served with crab meat over pasta. They were one of the specials that our delightful and very efficeint server, sharon, told us about. The DH had the Veal Magarita which was two large and tender pieces of veal that covered his whole large plate. He did ask for, and was graciously given, some additional sauce on the side. Also, next time we will have to remember to order a side vegetable as the veal is served with no sides. We were plesantly surprised to find tartufo with dark chocolate and pistachio ice cream anong the dessert offering. We split the dessert and had a double espresso and a cappucino to end our meal. And, as has been said here before, we got to meet and chat with Ron - the owner/chef of this delightful restaurant. He is a gracious host who made us feel very much at home. We definitely will be coming back to Christine's!

    6 Replies
    1. re: zidecar
      corvette johnny Oct 18, 2013 07:36 AM

      So I made some reservations for tomorrow. I can't wait to tear into that eggroll LOL

      Has anyone had the pork chop?

      Kansas Cut Pork Chop
      14 oz. Frenched Chop grilled with Hot Vinager Peppers, White Wine finished in a balsamic fresh plum reduction

      http://www.christinesitaliandining.co...

      1. re: corvette johnny
        jrvedivici Oct 18, 2013 07:45 AM

        My son has had ordered it, similar to a pork chop Murphy without the potatoes. Very good as everything has been on my various visits.

        1. re: jrvedivici
          corvette johnny Oct 18, 2013 09:00 AM

          I'll probably just end up with the steak. Any apps that you recommend besides the egg roll?

          1. re: corvette johnny
            d
            drubenero Oct 18, 2013 09:33 AM

            The Meatballs with fresh Ricotta. As good as the eggrolls, but as everyone suggests, make sure you try the eggrolls too.

            1. re: drubenero
              corvette johnny Oct 18, 2013 10:38 AM

              Thanks, will add that to my list. One order of eggroll and one of the meatballs it is.

              1. re: corvette johnny
                corvette johnny Oct 21, 2013 08:23 AM

                So I had the steak again and it was very good like the first time. The meatballs were also good and much larger than I thought they would be.

                The surprise of the night was the porkchop. I thought it was excellent. My wife got that and I am ready to go back to have my own. It was jammed packed as usual and extraordinarily loud.

                And yes, I had the egg roll....delicious.

    2. corvette johnny Aug 7, 2013 09:30 AM

      So I finally got to Christine's last Thursday knowing that JR wouldn't send me in the wrong direction.

      Bottomline : this is a solid establishment and the food is very good.

      Service was beyond excellent (the waiter seemed to have a vested interest in this restaurant...that's how good he was)

      Decor decent and fit the bill

      Seating a little tight since it is a smaller place and it can get
      on the louder side...not overly crazy though.

      Food wait a little slow but overall a very nice night and I will be back. I wish I had a second bottle of wine so keep that in mind folks ; )

      To start, the eggroll is just top notch. I am the biggest carnivore but get super picky when it comes to sausage. I can gulp down a bad steak or dry chicken but I can't do garbage sausage. This is quite a dish and it's one of those things I will get each time I go back. I am not a broccoli guy either but this broc rabe went well packed in there with the sausage and cheese.

      The 18.00 seared tuna over arugula was decent but overpriced in my eyes. I would have preferred the tuna to be raw. The tuna was very good, just on the smaller side and didn't stack up to the price.

      At 39 a piece, my wife opted for the Veal Christine and I got the aged NY strip. (don't quote me on the name of this veal chop but I thought it was the Veal Christine.) This fontina covered veal chop is their specialty and it is prepared well. As JR mentioned, it wasn't my top pick for flavor but it was a really good cut and I enjoyed the pieces my wife gave me. Don't get me wrong, this is a really solid dish. I just am in the same boat as JR where the flavor was good, but I personally would not order it after comparing it with the steak. I would love to see their take on Veal Saltimbocca.

      My Ny strip was excellent! This is a nicely trimmed cut, super tender and worth the price tag. It was topped with an ample amount of bubbling Gorgonzola....almost too much. I think next time I would like to just try the steak and have them toss the cheese over the roasted potatoes. I would like to try to taste more of the bold dry-aged beef flavor next time that was overpowered by the pungent cheese. Spinach is spinach I guess and next time I will see if I can sub that out.

      In summation, I really enjoyed my night here and my wife did as well. Reservations are definitely recommended and probably mandatory on the weekend.

      3 Replies
      1. re: corvette johnny
        jrvedivici Aug 7, 2013 10:32 AM

        It's kind of funny how similar our tastes are. Take a look at this post I made on the "Cheese Board" after my experience with the NY Strip here;

        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9004...

        Was your server's name Dessi? He's a good guy.......if not Ron the owner/Chef spend's a lot of time on the floor and he might have been your server that night. (If he was wearing his trade mark baseball cap that was Ron the owner

        )

        I'm glad you enjoyed it and have pretty much had the same exact experience I have. If you want to try a Veal Saltimbocca call a day in advance and I'm sure they would accommodate you. The weekend's do book up so without a reservation you will be out of luck.

        Glad you enjoyed.........

        1. re: jrvedivici
          corvette johnny Aug 7, 2013 11:06 AM

          Great stomachs think alike : )

          AHA! Dessi, that is it. That guy is a great waiter. He actually takes some time to explain things and really wants you to get a meal you will love. It is nice to actually get a good server nowadays that not only offers good service, but also loves food.

          I will definitely be back. Maybe next time I can ask Dessi to see if the chef would prepare a saltimbocca dish. Thanks for the idea. Hell, I will even bring some prosciutto with me ; )

          Speaking of top notch waiters, do you (or anyone) remember George from Fernandes 2? He left a while back and I think he is in NYC now but man, that guy was like the local "most interesting man" in the world....a guy who could kill two stones with one bird LOL That guy could have an entire table of women salivating while at the same time every guy has a "man crush" on him. (think seinfeld keith hernandez episode.) I'd definitely want to check out his new restaurant.

          1. re: corvette johnny
            jrvedivici Aug 7, 2013 12:06 PM

            I would suggest calling a day before if you want a special request. They actually changed their menu once already and they removed my favorite salad off of it. I requested it the last time I was there and they said call a day in advance for a special order because they don't keep any excess ingredients on hand.

            I'm not familiar with George from Fernandes, sorry I can't help on that one.

      2. c
        carlylecat Jul 30, 2013 08:38 AM

        Went to Christine's on Friday night with another couple - the egg roll is amazing - all of the food was served in HUMUNGOUS portions - veal chop was the size of the spare tire in my daughter's Prius

        Veal Milanese was expertly done and could have served all four of us. Pastas were fine if not remarkable.

        Service was solid, food was good if not great, price was incredible reasonable ($55 per head for (3) shared appetizers -egg roll, eggplant rollatini and tuna special over arugula (3) three entrees (ladies spilt a pasta, veal chop and a veal milanese) 4 deserts - tartufu for all and 4 coffee/espressos)

        Heading back this week for another try

        1. corvette johnny Apr 17, 2013 06:48 AM

          I went to go monday but it looked closed. I pulled into the harborside and decided to get a few beers and a steak there.

          Are they open monday? I looked on the site but didn't see any hours.

          Do they have any decent specials or it is strictly menu items?

          PS, this was classic LOL

          Quiz: How do you get a fat man to eat broccoli of any kind????
          Answer: Surround it with 3 cheeses and sausage and deep fry it!!

          4 Replies
          1. re: corvette johnny
            jrvedivici Apr 17, 2013 07:19 AM

            I'm not sure if they are or aren't open on Monday's but it is a popular "closed" night for restaurants so I would assume so. ((rubbing my eyes and taking a second look)) I'm sorry did you say you went to the Harborside for a steak???? Oh, duh, CC is closed on Monday's?

            They have about 5/6 specials a night. Last night were 3 fish (I ignored so I'm sorry I can't recite them) A porterhouse cut pork chop "Murphy" style (although they called it by another name) and the veal chop described above in different sauce. The menu is rather simple but I imagine they wanted to see what they were capable of producing with such a limited space. (my assumption)

            I'm glad you appreciate my attempts at humor! I've got to tell you as odd of a pairing an Italian egg roll might sound, I'll have to say it's one of my favorite new culinary twists.

            One other thing I should say about this place that I really, really enjoy is the balsamic reduction. Too many places don't properly reduce their balsamic and the end result is a very vinegary bite. Here on the salad, and drizzled on the plate of the egg rolls, is a sweet syrupy thick balsamic reduction. Again, I would never pair an Italian egg roll with a balsamic reduction but it is awesome. It is also served with a side of marinara as well.

            1. re: jrvedivici
              corvette johnny Apr 17, 2013 07:39 AM

              Yes my wife has something about us going to CC too much and/or on weekdays since I throw down a few drinks. Next thing I know the bill sky rockets and you know the rest....

              So as a "lower cost" alternative I sometimes go to harborside. It is close to home, they have some nice TVs, and my favorite beer on tap. Plus one bartender there is pretty easy on the eyes! They have a new menu so I tried the 16oz strip. Its actually pretty good and trimmed up nicely by the cook. If it were up to me I would have been at the CC though.

              Harborside now has a a 20oz ribeye with a redwine, butter and crabmeat reduction. It sounds like a strange combo but I will give it a try next time.

              And yes, I will definitely get into those eggrolls when I go.

              1. re: corvette johnny
                jrvedivici Apr 17, 2013 07:56 AM

                If I recall correctly doesn't the Harborside have a grill behind the bar? If so, that is similar to a place closer to home for me, The Pour House. A quick and good alternative when I just need a chunk of grilled red meat to fill my carnivore need.

                Actually, Jim the GM(?) of CC was dining at Christine's last night.

                1. re: jrvedivici
                  corvette johnny Apr 17, 2013 08:19 AM

                  They do have a grill but I haven't seen them cook on it in ages.

                  If you are in freehold try to get to La Cipollina. I think you will really enjoy their ribeye. I know my way around a steak and this is a solid slab of meat! If that place was closer I would be there a lot more.

          2. jrvedivici Apr 17, 2013 05:44 AM

            Went back here last night for probably my 5th/6th visit since they opened.

            I've got to tell you this place has quickly become one of my favorite places for solid Italian food. Last night it was myself and 2 others. It is becoming a family favorite because my kids (15/17) are actually addicted to the place because of the Italian egg rolls (see original review).

            Last night it was the egg rolls, salad with chopped Italian meats in balsamic reduction, rigatoni vodka, chicken parm and veal chop parm for myself.

            Let me tell you folks something.....the next time someone owe's me money for something I'm coming here to talk to Ron (chef/owner). This man can do things with a meat tenderizer like few I have seen before. The veal chop (bone in) is pounded so thin when it's served it looks like you can pick it up and play tennis with it. No lie, the dimension of the pounded veal chop was easily 6 inches by 12 inches on the plate. So thin, so tender, just the way veal is suppose to be. He did the same thing to the chicken breast making it completely cover the plate it was served on.

            His read sauce/gravy is spot on. Not too seasoned....fresh tomato taste with nothing offensive as you find with so many restaurants red sauce.

            The vodka sauce is excellent as well.

            An excellent choice for quality Italian in an area that is vastly lacking it. Think AMA quality without all the other AMA qualities.

            1. corvette johnny Dec 6, 2012 06:56 AM

              I will have to try this...nice write up.

              Have you had the veal chop at Sirena JR? I would definitely recommend it. I had one the other day and it was superb. Its a bone in shank and I thought the crispy shallots really set this dish off.

              "Rib Veal Chop...42.95
              crispy shallots and sage,
              potato puree, foraged mushrooms"

              2 Replies
              1. re: corvette johnny
                jrvedivici Dec 6, 2012 07:15 AM

                CJ, Sirena at Pier Village? If so, no I have not. I have only dined there a couple of times and never had the Veal Chop......I generally avoid PV like the plague.

                Also a side note to my write up two things I realize I forgot to mention we were served a complimentary bruschetta which was good......and also when they served the salad they served a garlic bread & roasted pepper plate with it. I didn't ask if this was standard procedure with that cured meat salad or if it was just a side affect of my charm and good looks.

                1. re: jrvedivici
                  corvette johnny Dec 6, 2012 08:01 AM

                  LOL, It might be the good looks that scored you the free bruschetta!

                  Yes, the one at Pier Village. I also try to dine at other places but sometimes for work I head there. If in the area, I'd recommend it. It is a solid veal dish! In fact, it is one of the most memorable around here that I can recall.

              2. m
                Mr. Bingley Dec 5, 2012 04:10 PM

                seems reasonably priced; i'll have to give them a try.

                1. m
                  MichelleM131 Dec 5, 2012 04:00 PM

                  Very nice review. Good luck to them.

                  1. HillJ Dec 5, 2012 01:49 PM

                    Nice review, jrv. Would this place fit a casual anniversary celebration for two?

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: HillJ
                      jrvedivici Dec 5, 2012 03:37 PM

                      Yes for sure......not sleeveless t-shirt and cutoff shorts casual but jeans etc yes..

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