Friday, January 10, 2014


The front entrance of Celestino's as seen from our banquet room
The company may have had their big bash at Knott's Berry Farm for Christmas, but our Monterey Park office celebrated a little more quietly with a lovely luncheon at Celestino's Italian restaurant in Pasadena the week before Christmas.

The menu
We got to choose whatever we wanted to eat off the menu, which was nice.

Albert, Stephen, Charlie and Eugene decide on their meals
My boss Eugene said his family enjoys this restaurant, and he hoped we would, too.

We were seated in a private room, around a large table.
Barbara, Frank B., Carmen, the lady from the OC office, and Edward
It was soup or salad for the first course.  The garden salad looked very fresh and inviting.

Garden Salad
I ordered the seafood salad.  It was huge!  It could have been a main course.  It was full of mussels, clams, shrimp, squid, octopus and scallops.  It was subtly dressed with an oil and vinegar dressing and had some nice little cornichon pickles to brighten it up.  

I really enjoyed this dish, but it was too much for me.  
Chilled seafood salad
A couple of people ordered the soup.  They all agreed it was delicious.

Tomato basil soup
My main course was a grilled salmon.  It was just perfectly crispy on the outside and mouth-wateringly melt-in-your-mouth on the inside.  Nice!

Grilled Salmon
My friend Barbara ordered the ravioli.  When she was first served, she had a plate of black raviolis that were black and smelled like seafood!  She truly dislikes seafood, and this just freaked her out.

It turned out that she'd gotten someone else's lunch by mistake.  The error was quickly rectified.  When she got her actual order, she said it was quite tasty
Ravioli with tomato sauce
The black raviolis turned out to be colored with squid ink.  I'm sorry, but that doesn't seem appetizing to me at all!  The people who ordered this, however, found it very good.
Raviolis with squid ink and seafood

Eric, Kenneth, Ana and Albert
I got to try one of Hilary's pumpkin filled tortellini.  They were delicious!  The filling was creamy and subtly seasoned with sage.  If I ever go back to this restaurant, I would order this in a flash.

Pumpkin tortellini
Hilary is married to an Irishman.  She and her hubby were headed off to Ireland for Christmas in a few days, and she was looking forward to the trip.  (I would be, too!)  She was seated next to me, so, sadly, I didn't get a good photo of her.  She's a beautiful young woman.
Charlie, Eugene, Doug and Hilary
We had a good time, even if engineers are not striking conversationalists!  But this is a great bunch of people.  I enjoy working with them every day.
Edward, his brother Walter, Giuseppe and Frank G
Walter is one of the co-founders of our company.  It was nice that he could come join us.

Panna Cotta with fresh strawberries
Panna Cotta is a traditional Italian custard.  I should have ordered that!

Instead I opted for the cannoli.  When I lived in Arizona, we used to drive from Phoenix to Tucson, to a delightful Italian restaurant named Mama Louisa's, just for a cannolo.  They were wonderful - light and crispy and filled with a sweet creamy ricotta filling.

The cannoli I got at Celestino's were not good.  They were thick and hard. I almost broke my teeth on them!

What's worse, when the waiter asked me what I wanted for dessert, instead of saying cannoli, I blurted out "cannelloni!"

My rock hard Cannoli
I have no idea what possessed me to say that!  I started to laugh, but the waiter didn't think it funny. He took about five minutes to berate me for my mistake and educate me on the difference between cannelloni (a pasta) and cannoli (a dessert).

I was mortified.  It had just been a slip of the tongue, after all.

To be served rock hard cannoli after that was just adding insult to injury.

Another dessert option was a flourless chocolate cake.  That looked pretty yummy.
Flourless chocolate torte
The service was great at Celestino's, and, for the most part, the food was excellent. It was fun seeing all the various choices people make for lunch.  I think if I ever go back, I'll have a better idea of what to order.  (No Cannolis!)

I am lucky to have a great boss and nice co-workers.  It's always fun to go out as a group to enjoy a meal, regardless of the cuisine.  I can't believe I've already celebrated five Christmases with this bunch!  What a great blessing in my life!

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