At the start of the eleventh and last episode of Ristorante Paradiso, “People of the Restaurant”, Olga leaves Nicoletta’s apartment after spending the evening with her daughter, who happens to be preoccupied with a recipe book as she leaves. But when Nicoletta enters the kitchen to test out a recipe, she notices an unfamiliar pot obviously left behind by Olga. While Olga is pretty pleased with herself with having done a good deed, Nicoletta only grudgingly thinks how Olga acts like a mother on only a few occasions such as this one. However, instead of food in the pot, Nicoletta is puzzled to find an invitation for herself.
It is an invitation for Olga’s birthday party, and Nicoletta confesses to Claudio that she had completely forgotten about the approaching birthday. Claudio mentions that there was a birthday party at the restaurant in the previous year as well and asks whether Nicoletta had received an invitation at the time. Nicoletta complains that she didn’t get one, considering that Olga wanted to hide her previous marriage from Lorenzo, and wonders if her mother gave her an invitation this year only because she is in Rome. Claudio cheers her up by pointing out Olga must be happy to be able to spend her birthday with her daughter.
Luciano then barges in to confirm with Claudio a nine o’clock reservation for Gabriella. This bothers Nicoletta somewhat, but she’s even more bothered when she’s reminded that Claudio still wears his wedding ring from his previous marriage. This bothers her a lot for quite a while, when one day it’s noted that Claudio’s wedding ring seems to be too loose. This brings up whether Claudio should take off the ring and how Claudio would again repeat thinking about it, but this time Claudio is actually about to take off the ring. While Luciano may not have thought much of Claudio taking it off so lightly, Nicoletta’s response surprises everyone except GiGi. She dumps food on Claudio’s head, saying that Claudio should not take off his wedding ring so trivially, and she runs off.
Nicoletta arrives at the bar where Olga and Gabriella are taking time off, which is a good chance for Olga to hand off the dress for Nicoletta that she had bought for the party. (The bar must be a regular hangout for the two lawyers for Nicoletta to have found them.) Nicoletta is not there to talk with her mother, however. She wants to talk to Gabriella about Claudio. While Gabriella declares that it has been over between them for a long time, Nicoletta disagrees, being quite sure that it’s not over for Claudio. Nicoletta is also sure that Gabriella is aware of Claudio’s feelings as well and is being cruel to frequent the casetta dell’orso so often. Gabriella agrees that it’s just as Nicoletta says, and she will be apologizing to Claudio as Nicoletta wishes. She will also stop frequenting the restaurant so often, although she will still drop by once in a while because the food is so good. When the conversation is over, Olga is quite relieved after having been caught in the middle between her daughter and her friend.
Back at the casetta dell’orso, the staff talks about what had just happened and how Nicoletta likes Claudio. The latter was quite obvious for a long while, of course, although Furio either didn’t know about it till now or thought that it was a secret only a few noticed. Claudio is quite embarrassed by the attention, and Luciano pointing out that it’s about time that Claudio take off his wedding ring doesn’t help. A phone call then arrives from Gabriella to Claudio, where she declares that she won’t be at the restaurant for a while. She explains it by mentioning the meeting Nicoletta earlier and then apologizes to Claudio for showing up so often even as she realized his feelings. Gabriella also mentions how Nicoletta is a great girl who is very considerate of Claudio’s feelings.
Later that night at Nicoletta’s apartment, Nicoletta is totally depressed by how she dumped pasta on Claudio. Olga is quite sure that it’s nothing and wants her daughter to try out the dress for the party instead. Not in the mood to try out clothes, Nicoletta instead asks about the pot Olga had left behind, and Olga explains it’s just something for Nicoletta who seems to be serious about a career in cooking, mentioning that her efforts were complimented by Claudio. Olga is also impressed by how Nicoletta confronted Gabriella earlier.
Olga is proud of her daughter and is grateful to her mother for raising Nicoletta so well even without her presence, which sort of embarrasses Nicoletta.
On another day, Nicoletta is talking to her grandmother over the phone, where she mentions that spring has come to Rome. Her grandmother has also heard about the upcoming birthday party for Olga, to which Nicoletta complains how Olga didn’t even take notice of her daughter during her birthdays. Her grandmother gives a different perspective, though, as she reveals how Olga wrote every year about feeling guilty about not summoning Nicoletta for her birthdays.
While preparations for the birthday party are underway at the casetta dell’orso, Nicoletta notices Claudio working on the guest list. She wants to work in the kitchen for the party, but Claudio thinks it better for Nicoletta to be an ordinary guest as Olga’s daughter. This just has Nicoletta complaining that she is ostensibly supposed to be the daughter of a friend of Olga, but their conversation has just got them caught by Olga red-handed with how Nicoletta had shared the secret with Claudio of Olga being Nicoletta’s mother.
There’s nothing to be done about Claudio knowing the secret, so Olga changes the subject to how Nicoletta should just be a regular guest so that the dress wouldn’t go to waste. Claudio mentions that everyone will be wearing suits at the party and suggests that it might be fine to work in the kitchen wearing a dress. Nicoletta thinks about what Teo would say to the idea, and Olga doesn’t think much of the idea as well, so Olga declares that it will be a day off for Nicoletta, which settles the matter. Nicoletta then wonders if Gabriella would show up, and Olga thinks that she might not. Obviously remembering what Gabriella said about visiting the restaurant for the good food, Nicoletta uses the excuse that the menu for the party looks very good and mentions that Gabriella really should come to the party, after which she heads back into the kitchen.
Olga mentions what a great girl Nicoletta is, to which Claudio quite readily agrees. Olga suggests that they hold a big party when it’s time to celebrate Nicoletta’s birthday, mentioning how she could only send a present and a card in past years because November is such a busy time. She is glad that Nicoletta came to Rome, although she teases Claudio by mentioning that it would be a problem if it came out how Nicoletta is her daughter. She teases him again by noting how loose his ring seems to be and offering to get him another one for warding off the fanladies. Back to a serious note, Olga mentions how Gabriella is not the only one waiting for Claudio to take off his wedding ring.
It is now the day for the birthday party, where many friends of the restaurant have shown up at the casetta dell’orso. Among them are Vanna, Marcio, Marina, Gabriella, Margerita, Francesco, Angela, and a whole lot of others, with the waiters doing some fancy footwork. Olga is quite uneasy with Lorenzo talking with Nicoletta, however, worrying what her daughter might be telling him. She need not have worried: Nicoletta having had her fun making her mother uncomfortable, she gives her a birthday present in the form of promising not to reveal how she is Olga’s daughter, and congratulates her mother on a happy birthday.
Nicoletta heads into the kitchen to say how everyone loves the food, where we get to see that an old employee of the restaurant, Dario, is also helping out with the party. Luciano expresses annoyance that a guest should not enter the kitchen, but this gets him teased by Vito that he’s only saying this because Nicoletta is so pretty. But what gets Nicoletta blushing is when Claudio agrees with Vito about Nicoletta being pretty. With Nicoletta in the kitchen, everyone thinks she is the right person to bring out the birthday cake. This warms her heart, but she thinks someone else is more suitable for the job.
Outside the kitchen, Olga is all depressed about how she has been a terrible mother for Nicoletta, who has grown up to be a very level-headed girl, and wondering if it is in fact because she wasn’t around. Gabriella tries to cheer Olga up by pointing out that they’re now close by, so she can now be a mother showing Nicoletta how to be a wonderful woman. It doesn’t really help Olga cheer up, though.
Lorenzo then brings out the birthday cake for Olga, accompanied by the restaurant staff. As he sets down the cake in front of his happy wife, he leans down to whisper that it was baked by Nicoletta as a birthday present. This has Olga start thinking about the time she has spent with her daughter in Rome. She must also have been thinking about how great her daughter has grown up to be, as has been pointed out frequently in this episode, in contrast to how terrible a mother she has been. Despite Nicoletta having promised to keep it secret earlier, the guilt must have finally gotten to her, and Olga publicly declares that Nicoletta is her daughter.
Given her reasons for having kept it secret in the first place, Olga is most worried about the response from Lorenzo. However, it turns out that Lorenzo knew about it almost from the beginning from how the smiles of mother and daughter look so much alike. This confirms what many of us must have suspected, especially given how GiGi knew it the same way as we learned in episode 5. Lorenzo was curious why Olga wanted to keep it secret, although he continued to respect her wishes. This has Olga wondering why it was OK with Lorenzo when he didn’t like divorce, but considering why he disliked in the first place and how the situation with Nicoletta is different, it shouldn’t be surprising that Lorenzo doesn’t have a problem with Olga’s previous marriage and divorce.
Olga apologizes to Nicoletta for what had happened so far, to which Nicoletta replies that it was no big deal and says she’ll just indulge a lot more from now on. Nicoletta’s words of forgiveness has Olga beginning to spill tears, and prompted by Claudio and GiGi, everyone applauds the happy occasion. This must be the best birthday ever for Olga. And in a quiet moment some time later with Claudio, Nicoletta sheds her own tears of joy for being publicly acknowledged as the daughter of her mother.
On another day, we see Claudio and Gabriella meeting in a bar during the day. Among the small talk is Gabriella mentioning that Olga is all fired up to do motherly things for Nicoletta. The actual reason for the meeting requested by Claudio is that he has finally come to grips with his feelings concerning his previous marriage. Gabriella seems to be glad that Claudio has gotten over her, with him finally taking off the wedding ring that he has kept on all this time. She is a bit surprised to learn that it wasn’t because Claudio is ready to accept Nicoletta’s feelings yet. Claudio will still need some more time to go that far.
As Claudio returns from his meeting with Gabriella, he surreptitiously comes across Nicoletta in the market. When a vendor asks whether Claudio is her father, she jokes that he’s actually her lover, which gets Claudio all flabbergasted. After a clarification, Claudio offers to carry the groceries for Nicoletta like the gentleman he is. Nicoletta notices that Claudio is not wearing the wedding ring when she hands over the groceries, which must make her pretty happy. While it doesn’t mean that they’re immediately involved romantically in any way, it’s a promising start. Nicoletta and Claudio walk comfortably together to Nicoletta’s home with Claudio carrying her groceries.
The episode ends with a new picture for the casetta dell’orso staff being taken with Nicoletta in the center, making her part of the history of the restaurant adorning its walls.
Ristorante Paradiso has been a very enjoyable and relaxing watch from start to finish. I am very happy that Nicoletta and Olga have managed to overcome their biggest problem, with Nicoletta no longer having to hide who she really is, although I do sort of wonder how many characters guessed that Nicoletta was actually Olga’s daughter. And I am glad that Claudio managed to clean up his feelings concerning his failed marriage: not only is it good for him, but I’m cheering for Nicoletta. I have a good feeling about a relationship between Claudio and Nicoletta with how they have subtly been growing closer throughout the show, although I might just be seeing what I want to see …
Alla prossima. Until next time.