Glenda Simas, Elk Grove Community Food Bank Services board member and active in her church; Chris Lucchetti, who says grandmother when asked what she does; Carrie Wheeler Engh, chiropractor and mother of 2-year-old Eric; Bob Wheeler, Engh’s father and manager of General Mills in Lodi; Angela K. Nickerson, freelance writer who works for St. John’s Lutheran Church; Carolyn Fischer, on-call Diva fill-in; Lori Hale of Bakersfield, cousin of Diva Paulette Bruce
Where: Masque Ristorante, 3909 Park Drive, El Dorado Hills; (916) 933-8555; masqueristorante.com
Benefiting organizations: Francis House; Elk Grove Food Bank; Ronald McDonald House
1-second review: Killer comeback for Masque&emdash;fantastico!&emdash;Carolyn Fischer
Menu: Compact but overflowing with imagination and extras that let diners know they are in for something special
Favorites: Top honors go to the crespelles (duckling-filled crÃªpes) and the grilled pork tenderloin with polenta and a sweet touch of golden raisins. Other goodies: housemade ricotta gnocchi with fava beans, speck (smoked pork, similar to prosciutto) and truffled pecorino; pastasciutta with Niman Ranch pork ragÃ¹; bietole (candied baby beets with goat cheese crÃ¨me); steamed manila clams with a horseradish-laced broth; and the bread&emdash;gorgeous and freshly baked, served with sweet butter. Dessert? The assortment of four fruit sorbets received high praise for its presentation; each sorbet was accompanied by a sample of its primo ingredient. For chocolate lovers, the Gianduia, a chocolate-mousse crunch cake, was a dream and worth every calorie.
Extras: The chef treated us to a bit of fresh mozzarella on a charming curved spoon, and we sampled pizza from the cafe. (Angela Nickerson declared it the most authentic she has had outside of Rome.) Hostess/server/wine steward Amy Sanford was so personable, knowledgeable and charming, we wanted her to join the group.
Ambiance: Elegant, classy, fresh flowers everywhere
Quote of the day: Said one lunch guest: My grandchildren are much better people than my children ever were.
Chatter: Carolyn Fischer on why she does not golf: The outfits aren’t cute enough. Bob Wheeler’s wife knows all about golf: She was playing in a tournament on three different courses. She has had six holes in one, according to Wheeler. He should know: Each one cost him a diamond. Masque has a special-occasion feel, noted Glenda Simas. Diva Gayla Mace said it best: You can be having a bad day . . . go to lunch with friends, drink some wine and eat a wonderful meal. You will leave feeling that life is really still good. Amen to that.
The Dining Divas&emdash;Gloria Glyer, Paulette Bruce, Bernice Hagen, Joan Leineke, Gayla Mace and Peg Tomlinson-Poswall&emdash;have been wining and dining together since 1993. Every month, they lunch at an area restaurant, taking as their guests people who placed winning bids at charity events. To date, they have raised more than $268,000 for local charities and nonprofits.