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Dec 5, 2012 07:18 AM

Christine's Atlantic Highlands NJ (Old AMA location)

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 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 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.

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

    1 Reply
    1. re: HillJ

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

    2. Very nice review. Good luck to them.

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

        1. 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

            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

              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. 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.