21-year-old Nicoletta is in Rome to visit the popular restaurant that’s owned by her mother Olga’s husband. This restaurant is interesting because all of the people who work there are older gentlemen who wear reading glasses, and Nicoletta later learns that it’s due to the request of her mother. Regardless, she is here because her mother left her with her grandmother when she was young in order to get remarried, and Nicoletta is plotting to expose the fact that her mother is once-divorced. Her mother, however, convinces her to put that off until later and has her instead pretend to be the daughter of a friend. While at the restaurant, the head cameriere Claudio catches Nicoletta’s eye, and she runs into him again the next day on the street. He invites her to the restaurant again to eat with the other staff, and this time Nicoletta gets to know everyone: camerieres Luciano and Vito, sommelier Gigi, and chefs Teo and Furio. She also finds out that Claudio wears a wedding band. Nicoletta later moves into an apartment that her mother prepared for her, and inside she finds a teddy bear with a welcome note from her mother.
With nowhere else to go, Nicoletta continues to hang out with the restaurant staff, and she’s getting more and more interested in Claudio. She also knows that she has to get a job, and while thinking about it one day, she runs into Luciano and his grandson. The three are joined by Gigi and eat a meal together that’s cooked by Nicoletta, but neither Gigi nor Luciano want to tell her anything about Claudio. Undeterred, Nicoletta gets an opportunity to be with Claudio when he walks her home on a rainy day, and she finds out that he’s not actually married right now. He’s been separated from his wife for a number of years, and the ring he wears is just to ward off potential pursuers. Unable to control herself, Nicoletta makes a move on Claudio when they reach her apartment, and although he doesn’t put up much of a resistance other than to say he can’t do this, they are interrupted by the arrival of Nicoletta’s mother.
Olga doesn’t want Nicoletta with Claudio and suggests that she return to her grandmother’s place to think about her future. On that topic, Nicoletta remembers how she had cooked earlier for Luciano and the others, so she proposes a deal where she keeps the fact that she’s her mother’s daughter secret in exchange for an apprenticeship at the restaurant. Her mother agrees, so Nicoletta starts working there. As for Claudio, Nicoletta apologizes to him for what she did, and although she asserts that she’s still serious about him, her focus now is on cooking. That night, Nicoletta learns that Claudio’s ex-wife Gabriella is there, and she leaves the kitchen to get a peek at the woman. Nicoletta later accidentally overhears a discussion outside the restaurant between Gabriella and Claudio about him still wearing the ring, and Gabriella leaves after spotting her. All this leads Nicoletta to wonder if Claudio still loves his wife.
I don’t have much to say about the opening or ending songs other than that they’re both nice in the easy-listening sort of way, but not really memorable. The dancing teddy bear in the ED was cute though.
Fuji TV aired the first two episodes of this yesterday (because of that, there’s no new episode next week), and it turned out to be better than what I expected. The animation quality is decent, Orikasa Fumiko does a good job voicing the main character, and it’s not slow or boring to watch like I thought it might be. In fact, airing two episodes might have worked in their favor in this case because I found the second episodes to be much more interesting than the first. That’s probably due in no small part to how the romance aspect of the series picked up pace with the scene where Nicoletta forces herself on Claudio (the words date rape crossed my mind) and with the appearance of Claudio’s ex-wife. As a side note, all these Italian names and character interactions for whatever reason made me feel like I was talking about a trashy romance novel when I was writing the summary.
Anyway, I didn’t find Ristorante Paradiso to be amazingly great, but it’s a nice slice-of-life romance for those of you who might be looking for a series without magic, mecha, or a ton of girls. As for me, this ends up being one of those series that I mostly like but don’t know whether I want to follow it weekly, so whether or not I continue watching/blogging this depends a lot on how busy the rest of my schedule is.