Christina’s – April 2018
7.17 – 8, 7.5, 7.5, 7.4, 7.2, 7, 6.75, 6

An interlude of only two weeks had passed since our last DP8. This time, the Notars went the opposite way, heading south on Rt 32 and then Mt Marion Rd and finally 9W in Kingston before Mark cut off two oncoming cars and parked at Christina’s.

Christina’s, formerly Guido’s, was proudly advertising its twentieth year on its billboard. And it was a visit to an establishment none of us had ever visited before, not even the Notarnicolas. Daring? Or confidence? Or trust?

Christina’s advertises a European menu, but the Italian cuisine seems to dominate, with ambiance highlighting that feel.

It is a lengthy menu, with our entrée selections showing a range of cuisines. Surprisingly for DP8, were it not for Kerry’s order of meatloaf, no beef would have been selected.

Orders for the evening.

All were gigantic portions and most were deemed very good to excellent, with a couple of OK to good.

The early bread basket contained Italian bread, of course, but also held flatbread triangles and a dozen or so fried & dusted dough balls. The dough balls disappeared like candy. A six inch plate of hummus accompanied. As an opener, this boded well for the remainder.

Entrées came with choice of soup or salad but the specials of the evening came with soup and salad. With the soup course coming ten minutes before the salad course, we experienced two courses of a few of us sitting patiently while others ate, a policy that seemed a little discomfiting.
            A choice of four soups were available, with the pasta fagioli garnering the most attention. All four soupers complimented the soup maker. And the salad was a small dinner plate loaded with greens, three big chunks of tomato, an olive or two, shreds of carrot and onion – one of the more impressive house salads, and six of us enjoyed a house salad more than usual.

The drink order consisted of a few Raspberry Cosmopolitans, a soda, and red wine for five – a Ruffino Chianti, followed by a bottle of Ruffino Rocca della Macie Chianti, a step up from the first.

A short list of desserts tempted a couple.

Service by Kim was good to excellent, once the drink order was taken. She was proficient, efficient, and sufficient—personable, helpful, smooth, seasoned. Water was filled regularly, plates removed promptly (diners taking about the same time make that decision easier), and delivery was smooth.
            The opener started slow, with a long-ish wait for taking drink orders, only to be prolonged by our need of a wine list.
            Visits by the manager and the owner were a nice touch.

Ambiance, well, was a mix of factors. Christina’s is located on the busy, cluttered Ulster/Albany Ave between the malls and Stockade. The exterior was functional although not particularly attractive.
            Entry led to the manager’s dais, with a view leftward of an ample bar area with TVs, bar seating, high tables, and booths. We walked rightward through a 30x30 room, a conglomeration of banquette on the right, and a four foot walled-off section, on the left, serving as semi-privacy screen and as a room divider. An off-shoot of this room on the left was a cozier dining area. Through the next faux gateway was our dining area, apparently an add-on to what may have been the original building, another 30x30, which led to their outside deck, something that 35 degrees discouraged use of this evening.
            Three large windows on three walls, some curtained, gave an airy feel, with room for about ten tables. A table of fifteen celebrating an anniversary was already seated. Wainscoting of a birch veneer framed by wide dark-wood borders was topped by a rose-dark pink paint. Lighting by chandelier and sconces was enough light to be cozy and just dark enough to wish for more when reading the menu (unless you backed against the window).
            We oohed at the sight of our table – a rarity of a single piece square table large enough for two seats on each side, serving the same purpose as a round table. It was perfect for us, allowing conversations to be heard by all.
            The floor was singularly interesting. Fifteen inch blocks of mosaic tiles, with pieces forming one large circle, lay underfoot. Italian villa-esque, we could not help but wonder how tough it was to keep clean.
            Noise level was subdued.

Pacing was close to our average, perhaps a few minutes over two hours, influenced by our slow twenty minute start.

The final bill, including tax, tip, and drink, came to $95 per couple, three dollars less than last month’s Bull’s Head Inn, allowing for comparisons.

We started at the Notars for an appetizer pre-round – an infrequent event these past couple years. Plates of cheese slices, salami cubes, chips, pretzels, mustard and carrots were good nibblers. And then Mark brought out the spicy corn casserole, with hints of heat but mostly pizzazz, scooped out with the corn chip bowls, and savored by everyone. Libations from Mark included red and white, beer, and soda. True to our intentions, the Notars tried to keep it light before our southward venture.

Four hours of togetherness produced a range of topics: Spring weather, not Spring weather, arthritis, thumb surgery, needles, left-handedness (toilet procedures), lingering colds, the Quinns complementing the DP8 roster for consecutive months, C-D Hall of Fame dinner, last bits of snow in the yard at a couple of our houses, the next travels, someone’s retirement, Adamses’ photos from Spain, whereabouts of the other DP8ers, late grass mowing, getting the pool into shape, Mark’s house-flipping adventure/project with his brother, a bit of fog on the way back, memories of Kingston post-IBM, shopping in Kingston vs Albany, not leaf-time yet, male breast lumps, nipple rings, rope tows (it got worse, Kriss; please come back soon), telling secrets, singing Happy Anniversary with the table of fifteen next to us, and more.