Episode 3 of Ristorante Paradiso, “Paradiso”, begins with Claudio listening to a woman saying that it was fun the previous night. She is also wondering when the man will take off his ring, accusing him that he still has feelings for his wife. The woman wasn’t talking to Claudio, though, but her words must have made him think of his own situation. At another time, Nicoletta watches Claudio as the restaurant closes. I had thought that the short sequences starting each episode were supposed to illustrate the atmosphere of the restaurant, but now it seems that they’re supposed to show aspects of Claudio and Nicoletta.
While Nicoletta gets acquainted with the local merchants accompanied by Furio and Teo, during which she unsuccessfully queries whether Teo has a girlfriend, Olga is talking to Gabriella about Nicoletta’s feelings for Claudio. Everyone else seems to be unsure about whether Claudio still loves Gabriella, as stated by Olga and the reactions of Luciano and GiGi in the previous episode, but Gabriella herself is quite sure this is not the case. Incidentally, Gabriella is one of the people who knows that Nicoletta is Olga’s daughter, and Olga works as a divorce lawyer. In fact, Gabriella and Olga work at the same law firm.
Nicoletta is preoccupied after seeing Gabriella, which prompts Luciano to advise Claudio not to be so nice to Nicoletta if he has no intention of becoming romantically involved with her. After this talk, Nicoletta notices that Claudio might be avoiding her. This may be why Claudio declines to join the rest of the restaurant staff when they head to the wine bar Enoteca. It is here that Nicoletta learns how young Vito’s wife is, who is still attending college, and she’s quite pleased to hear about how great Vito’s marriage is despite their age difference. Nicoletta also gets to meet Furio’s wife Angela, a mature woman about the same age as Furio, and the way Furio and Angela seem to be so comfortable with each other has Nicoletta complaining about how everyone seems to be happy.
Meanwhile when Claudio is walking home alone, he encounters Gabriella saying farewell to her clients after having had dinner with them. She seems to be doing quite well, and she invites Claudio for a drink, but Claudio passes on her invitation and looks on silently as she leaves. And he seems to be unhappy about his empty house when he returns.
That night at Nicoletta’s apartment, Olga arrives unannounced with a bunch of clothes she bought for her daughter while shopping that afternoon during a rare break. Now that Nicoletta knows about Gabriella, Olga does not have any problem with Nicoletta pursuing Claudio as long as she is serious about it. Nicoletta isn’t quite sure if it’s really love, but her description of her feelings makes Olga declare that it really is love. The conversation soon changes to Olga and her husband, and Nicoletta is surprised to learn that Olga fell in love at first sight even after Olga had decided to focus on work after her divorce.
Another day, when Claudio heads out to summon Nicoletta that it was time to eat, where she was collecting home-grown herbs in the backyard, he begins to help her and suggests that she could talk to him if she had anything on her mind. He thought that it may have been himself and Gabriella on her mind, but this time it was something different. Nicoletta is envious of how Olga manages to maintain both love and career and how everyone seems to respect her. Claudio tries to cheer up Nicoletta by pointing out how similar she is with Olga, which has Nicoletta comically blurting out that Olga is her mother, with a similarly comical expression of surprise by Claudio after he takes a while to digest what she just said.
Nicoletta reveals that it’s supposed to be a secret that not even Olga’s husband knows about and how she came to Rome to reveal the secret, even though this plan is currently on hold. She talks about how the ostensible reason for being given to the care of her grandmother is that her mother wanted to marry her current husband. But Nicoletta admits to realizing the real reason is that her mother was too busy with work; this explains why Nicoletta’s attitude towards her mother was more of exasperation rather than resentment. Of course, it doesn’t mean that Nicoletta doesn’t want to cause trouble for her mother …
Claudio informs Nicoletta that Gabriella worked with her mother, and reveals how he and his ex-wife became distant with her busy work until they eventually separated, pointing out that there were some similarities between his and Nicoletta’s situations. He also admits feeling conflicted about seeing how his ex-wife seems more energetic and happy now that they are no longer together. After again offering to lend his ear for any problems Nicoletta might end up having, he reveals his full name, Santo Claudio Paradiso. It was presumably to reveal a secret of his own after hearing Nicoletta’s secret, with an expectation that he might be made fun of for his name like when he was a child, given how it would mean Saint Claudio Paradise in English. Instead, the episode ends with Nicoletta feeling that Claudio really is like a saint.
Nicoletta must be really happy about Claudio not rejecting her outright, even if she knows that it doesn’t mean that Claudio accepts her as a romantic interest, and she also has a new impression of Claudio as a saint. I’m finding myself interested in what new impressions of Claudio that Nicoletta gets each episode, and now that he’s reached sainthood, I wonder if he can go any higher. And in the next episode, the preview shows Olga having collapsed due to overwork. While some might complain about important plot points being revealed in the previews, I don’t mind at all, since plot twists are not why I enjoy watching Ristorante Paradiso.