December’s Ladies Who Dine took us on an outing like none before. This one happened in the middle of the day. Yes, lunchtime dining with the Ladies on a Thursday, which meant a wonderful time, of course, but without any alcohol.

Well, I had alcohol.

This particular Thursday was the one before Christmas, a day I’d requested off. So amid holiday cheer and sumptuous food, I had plenty reason to drink (most importantly, a day off to drink).

We met at Ellie’s, a newish Long Beach spot promising hearty, authentic Southern Italian plates in charming Alamitos Beach. And with Christmas just a few days away, there were gifts. For me!

And Ellie’s isn’t alone with a little something cooking in the oven. LWD member Lady Mujer is soon to have a baby (number two), and our December outing fell on the same day she revealed the baby’s sex at work. Since I no longer work at the same location where most of the Ladies earn their paper, I got a special little LWD reveal.

It’s a (hungry) boy!

The rest of us tried to bulk up our own bellies by sampling just about everything on Ellie’s menu (not quite as fun a way to get big, but still wonderful). We did the dang thing, starting with oysters and grilled bread (with pork butter), then moving on to a fried chicken sandwich, Caesar’s salad, a burger, the tagliatelle, the cavatelli, the pomodoro, a cauliflower salad, a beet salad, a salad with figs, and grilled asparagus.

And my most favorite thing in the entire wide tasty earth (these days) – the winter squash, a dish like none I’ve ever tasted before. I must have been a little tipsy when I ordered it, the menu listing its components as saba (WTF?), caper pestata (if those are capers as in capers, I hate capers), brown butter (well, I can get down with butter, brown and otherwise), crescenza cheese (you always have me at cheese), and puffed quinoa (that crap healthy people eat). Perhaps I’ve just taken claim of some supernatural Jedi foodie wisdom, forcing my lips to call out an order worth raving about when the server comes to the table, even when that order involves lots of veggie-healthy stuff (Winter squash bring me you will). I’ve dreamt of the winter squash ever since, my taste buds nostalgic at the mention of any sort of gourd-based delight (perhaps that’s what let me to St. Francis’ pumpkin soup?).

Our time together passed too quickly, the only problem with a lunchtime workday gathering – we only got an hour-ish together (don’t tell the boss). But a sublime little bundle of time, in a tasty little space. The Ladies are thrilled to have Ellie’s in the LBC, and you will feel the same once you make it over for a meal.

204 Orange Avenue in Long Beach