Ama at the Driftwood- Getting better and better!
Went on a busy Saturday night. Ama was packed at 8:30 when we were seated. Out came the best bread in NJ, which is to dipped in the EVOO on every table.
The waitress opened our wine and came back to take our orders. Started with Ama's famous mussels, which are incredible, as was a new appy of seafood salad that was wonderful. We split chef's new risotto dish, baby clams oreganata! This was one of the best risottos I have ever had- different yet WOW! Main courses were perfectly cooked bronzino, and amazing scallops.
Some restaurants rest on their laurels. I've been to Ama many times and I can honestly say this might have been the best meal I've had here yet. FIVE STARS all the way!! They are getting better and better! Bravo
I just finished ordering my 'ground beef' (through a wholesaler who supplies restaurants down here) a few minutes ago that we recently discussed on another CH thread. $2.50/lb is the latest price.
He mentioned dining at Ama last nite and was disappointed - value and quality wise.
Now, I know he knows food better than most as he's a J&W graduate and has been head man in 3 kitchens now for over 20 years - with a focus on delivering the best he can each and every day. He's uncompromising in that regard, and he's a teacher as well - his kitchen's are happy places and one learns the trade in great conditions. That said, I'll often probe to find out WHY - why something disappointed him, etc, etc. also why something was outstanding, etc. etc.
Here you go: Didn't care for the calamari (small portion) and was charged an additional $2 for marinara (put this plate at $16) as the order was with a salad which he also commented was on the skimpy (two forkfulls?). The other appetizer was a cheese offering (fresh moz wrapped around ricotta) that he commented was no larger than an extra large egg for $18.
He did say that his GF's clams oreganata risotto was good, and he had a lobster dish (perhaps a risotto as well) and he commented that it was all claw meat, no tail and maybe 4 ozs for $28.
While his total bill was $100 and I presume that to be pre tip (he always tips minimum 20%), that's not bad so I still don't know what to make of the place. He may have had a problem dropping a hundred and just not feeling it had great value nor quality. I see glowing reviews by veteran Hounders; I'm sure that it's not irrational exuberance though setting can snooker you into a feelgood high after a good weekend. Will I eventually try it? Probably not, and not because of my friends comments. Italian if someone's taking me and that's where they want to go.
He just didn't see it being all that great, and he'll be the first one to seek out a chef, when he's blown away by what may be coming out of a restaurant's kitchen. So, while I said it's doubtful that I'll ever go, I won't say that I'll NEVER go. Just showing another take on a restaurant.
I can't comment on the food but I can say one thing for sure, they need a better sign out front. I drive by it EVERY day and it is just weak and barely noticeable. They need something to draw people in. And yes I realize there are ordinances but if the owner ever reads this, I would seriously consider changing that sign.
Anyone know why they moved? (was it to get a liquor license?) Christine's seems to be doing really well...just wondering.
Been in three times over the last few weeks - it is definetly one of the best around, and while the food may be worthy of your star rating, this is not a top tier restaurant by any stretch of the imagination, but a seriously good one.
No doubt the bread is awesome, fish dishes have all been solid, I dont care for the scallop preperation but that is taste - the steak was ok, they missed the temperature and offered to replace but it took until the other diners finished before it came back in the same condition on Friday night ... another veal chop was seriously good and the red snapper with zuchinni chips is one of my favorite entrees I discovered this year.
The dessert menu lacks any sort of creativity - the tiramisu and chocolate cake are nothing more than boring
The wine list is small and has servicable concentrations in California and Italy, mostly major producers of young, good quality wines at reasonable prices - nothing that really distinguishes the list except for the heavy concentration of Cal/Italy
Service can be escrutiatingly slow, especially getting drinks from the bar, wait staff does not really match the quality of the food
The bar scene is getting a bit out of hand, the noise can spill over quite hard into the dining room
reasonable people can disagree on taste and the decor just does not work for us - a farm house at the beach, pretty odd....
But no doubt a welcome addition to the shore dining scene, glad they are back and we will be there a few dozen times this summer