Episode 9 of Ristorante Paradiso, “Holiday at the Restaurant”, begins with a scene from the past where Teo is being chewed out by the previous chef Vanna about being so unmotivated. The next scene shows Teo confirming that Vanna was quitting the casetta dell’orso, and he also almost hit her when she wonders if Teo would still be at the restaurant by the time she shows up again. This has got to be the scene with the highest amount of dramatic tension directly shown so far by the show, even if it’s not much compared to some of the indirectly implied drama.
Back in the present, the boiler at the casetta dell’orso has broken down and won’t be fixed for a day or two, so the restaurant staff decides on an unscheduled break for the next day. While others like Luciano and Vito take advantage of the holiday to spend time with their family, Nicoletta meets up with Furio and Teo at the local market. They are using the day to try out new menu items that could become part of the casetta dell’orso menu in the spring, although Nicoletta would be happy enough if her suggestions were to be accepted as part of the staff meals. In fact, she is quite motivated to get them good enough for the staff meals.
At the restaurant, Furio, Teo, and Nicoletta prepare their new menu items. For the first round, Teo has prepared grilled scampi, Furio has prepared roast lamb, and Nicoletta has prepared frittata. While the roast lamb is unsurprisingly good and seems to have potential as a new menu item with just a bit more improvement, the frittata gets a much poorer response. Furio is too polite that he complements that at least it looks good, but Teo is much more direct and says it tastes terrible.
While GiGi doesn’t say much about the food, who surprised Nicoletta by showing up and starting to eat without her noticing, Nicoletta is disappointed by the response of Claudio, who had dropped by the restaurant. Being told that her frittata is pretty without any comment on its taste isn’t doing wonders for her confidence in her cooking skills. And she can’t deny how much farther she still needs to go when she takes a bite out of Teo’s grilled scampi.
The next round of dishes has similar results, although at least Nicoletta’s roast lamb with crunchy potatoes is judged better than her frittata as not tasting bad but lacking a certain sensitivity. It’s also amusing to see GiGi know exactly what Nicoletta was thinking as she wonders if there were some sort of special powers in Furio’s and Teo’s arms. Nicoletta tries to argue that her dish might be good enough for the staff meals, but Teo shoots down the idea by pointing out that they were a high-end restaurant and not some cheap diner. This reminds Teo of similar incidents in the past where Vanna would chew him out for the same reasons.
Later, Marcio drops by the restaurant. Upon seeing the depressed Nicoletta, he tries to cheer her up and surprises her by revealing how Teo used be chewed out the same way by the main chef.
After the break, Teo is having coffee in the yard and asks Nicoletta why she decided to become a cook when she comes out to collect herbs. Her answer is that she loved her grandmother’s food while growing up, and she finds it very interesting to learn that Teo became a cook because his late father was also one at an osteria (a small restaurant in the countryside). She’s a bit bewildered by Teo’s lukewarm reaction on the topic of his father, though.
Inside, Marcio talks to Claudio and GiGi about how Teo couldn’t manage to stay in one restaurant for more than a few years at a time, but with his potential was recruited to the casetta dell’orso. Teo had become a cook following his father’s footsteps, but he had lost his way when his father died, and he used to fight all the time with Vanna like a rebellious teenager. Marcio must be at the age where he finds everything nostalgic, considering how he talks to Claudio and GiGi about things they probably already know …
Furio, Teo, and Nicoletta are back in the kitchen for another round of cooking. Teo surprises Nicoletta by advising her to use ingredients she is used to. And when Nicoletta notes how Teo is cooking, the subject of regional influences on food comes up and Furio talks about how he often talks with his wife about traveling all around to experience foods from different regions. Teo thinks it’s a great idea and talks about how it would be nice to travel around on bike for a food trip, and the way he seems to be enjoying the thought bemuses Nicoletta and Furio and embarrasses himself. The exchange has Nicoletta wondering if Teo has a loved one and whether talk about his home region brings up thoughts about his late father.
As everyone tries out the food, Nicoletta gives the same response that they’re delicious to Furio’s and Teo’s dishes as before, which is pointed out by Furio and Teo. In particular, Teo thinks that a female cook should be able to judge food with more rich and sensitive words, although Claudio tries to defend her that her facial expressions are very rich and sensitive. I don’t think you’re helping, Claudio … But when Furio suggests that Nicoletta aim to reach the heights of their previous female chef, Nicoletta only now realizes that the picture of the original chef of the casetta dell’orso was that of a woman. I wonder what Vanna would think of Nicoletta mistaking her picture as that of a man …
Teo and Vanna used to fight all the time, although Vanna obviously had the upper hand as the main chef, which makes Nicoletta wonder if this was why Vanna quit. Of course it wasn’t: Vanna had quit because of a family matter and had went to America. And Teo quietly praises her as a first-rate cook.
After the conversation about Vanna, it is finally time to try out Nicoletta’s dish. She is very nervous about how it will be received. While she thinks it is the best of her dishes so far, she is still uncertain if it is good enough. This is when the owner and his wife show up, and seeing everyone eating, Olga sits down to try out the food herself. While Furio’s and Teo’s dishes are delicious as expected, Olga gives pause after trying out Nicoletta’s dish and finds it nostalgic. Furio and Teo point out that her dish is excellent food for a home, but that a professional needs to aim for higher standards. Nicoletta accepts their point and understands that a cook not only has to have excellent cooking skills but must also think about those who eat the food, although she retreats to the kitchen out of embarrassment when she notes the proud looks everyone seems to be sending her.
After some time, Claudio arrives at the kitchen with empty dishes and tells Nicoletta a saying among waiters that a restaurant with good staff meals is a good restaurant. When she realizes that the empty dishes mean that everyone ate all of the food she prepared, this makes her very happy. Nicoletta should be congratulated for getting her food accepted as part of the staff meals.
In the evening when everyone is ready to leave the restaurant (except for GiGi who needs to wait for the boiler to be fixed), a woman arrives on Teo’s motorcycle. It is Vanna who is back in Italy, although she has to return to America after a week. When Nicoletta expresses her admiration for the first-rate cook, Vanna wonders who said something like that, but soon realizes that it must have been the somewhat embarrassed Teo. Teo and Vanna ride off on the motorcycle as Nicoletta wonders if they’re romantically involved. And as Teo and Vanna ride the road, it looks like this may indeed be the case. I wonder when this happened?
We finally learned what happened to one of the original cooks at the casetta dell’orso, although I wonder what family situation may have made Vanna move permanently to America. It was also interesting to see the parallels between Teo and Vanna compared to Nicoletta and Teo, although Nicoletta is most unlikely to become romantically involved with Teo considering that they don’t talk much about personal matters, not to mention that she is all eyes for Claudio. And I can’t help but find it amusing how Nicoletta tries out the food with a huge smile.