Episode 8 of Ristorante Paradiso, “The Old Days”, begins with a scene from a few years ago, where Furio’s wife Angela comments on the fake glasses Furio has begun to wear at the restaurant he has started to work at. In fact, Furio has been at the casetta dell’orso for only a week by now, and he is getting a lot of help from Claudio. It does make him wonder why Claudio is being so nice, to which Teo notes that Claudio seems to have known Furio from before. Indeed, Claudio’s thoughts quite clearly show that he knew Furio in the past. Unlike the other episodes, the opening narration is done by Claudio and not Nicoletta in this episode.
Back in the present, Nicoletta is depressed and feeling guilty about accidentally stepping on Furio’s fake reading glasses. It’s a double whammy when she learns that it was a gift from Claudio to Furio. Claudio and Furio do not at all blame Nicoletta for what happened to the glasses, but it still leaves her depressed. After Nicoletta and Teo leave the kitchen, Furio remembers to ask Claudio whether there are any open tables for the night. His wife Angela wants to have dinner with an old friend. Luckily there is a cancellation and the usual table can be reserved, so Furio asks a table for three people to be reserved. There is also an extra request from Angela: she explicitly wants Claudio to serve their table.
Outside, Nicoletta is depressed about how often she screws up and how far she has yet to go as an apprentice chef, not even being allowed to prepared any of the staff meals. Claudio tries to cheer her up by pointing out that she brews good espresso, not that it really cheers her up. In fact, she is just envious about Claudio, whom she thinks has never been a screwup like her, to which Claudio replies that he was even worse. It’s not a serious conversation, so Nicoletta just takes it in as another attempt to cheer her up.
In the evening, Angela and a couple of her acquaintances has arrived for dinner. Claudio is actually surprised when he recognizes who one of the old friends is. It must have been someone he knew from a long time ago, although there is no indication that the old friend has recognized Claudio. When Claudio hears a dish breaking and Nicoletta panicking in the kitchen, he remembers a similar incident from over twenty years ago.
A young Claudio was working as a waiter in a hotel, where he accidentally dropped a drink, breaking the dishware and spilling the contents on a patroness. While the woman was not angry at all, this is because she had an ulterior motive. Hotel management expects the patroness to chew Claudio out, but the woman forces the cute Claudio to provide sexual services. Not that we actually see what happens, and the woman could have just been doing something innocuous such as giving Claudio a wedgie with his top off, but does anyone really think this is what happened? This would explain why Claudio seems to be so helpless against aggressive women. At least Nicoletta had no intention of going farther than she did in episode 2 …
We see that Claudio in his younger years was indeed as bad, if not worse, than Nicoletta as he keeps on dropping and breaking dishes. Part of it is that Claudio is overburdened with extra work and that he doesn’t even get the chance to eat properly. A young and sharp-looking chef notices the near-to-collapse starving young waiter and later offers him food, which gathers the attention of other waiters and chefs who all gather to get a taste of it. Claudio and the chef do not know each other yet, but the chef is actually a young Furio, who turns out to be quite the celebrity as a promising chef who is already the main one at the hotel despite being younger than Claudio.
In fact, the comparison of Furio to himself has the young Claudio wondering whether he should quit as a waiter. As Claudio is alone in the corridor being depressed, a young woman comes along and strikes up a conversation. When she asks his name and he replies that it is Santo Claudio Paradiso, she turns out to be one of the few people that does not make fun of his name. When he notes this, she points out that it might not just be his name that makes people tease him about it.
This brings up how Claudio is thinking that he’s not right as a waiter, especially when compared to the up and coming Furio, to which the young woman replies that a cook and a waiter are different, and that Claudio should reconsider giving up. As she leaves, she gives him advice that maybe there is another place that would be a better fit for him, compared with the hotel with its legion of employees. Claudio soon learns that the young woman is Angela, the daughter of the hotel’s owner and the fiance of Furio. Too bad for Claudio: he seemed to be developing a crush for Angela, only to have it crushed within minutes.
Back in the present, Angela is having dinner with two other people, and one of them is someone that Claudio knows from the past. It’s the old hotel manager who had been so hard on Claudio, although he does not recognize the waiter. Ironically, he is quite impressed with Claudio and considers it quite the coincidence when he learns that Claudio used to work at a hotel as well, not realizing that it is no coincidence at all. To increase the irony, the old hotel manager considers it a pity that Claudio didn’t work at his hotel after learning that Claudio had worked at another restaurant for twenty years. Throughout dinner, Angela is quite amused while watching Claudio talk with the old hotel manager.
After dinner near closing time and with Angela’s guests having left, Furio, Angela, and Claudio have a talk about the dinner. Furio is quite amused about the old hotel manager not having recognized Claudio at all, which only prompts Angela to remind Furio that he didn’t recognize Claudio either when he started working at the casetta dell’orso. This brings up how Claudio is impressed with Angela remembering him after all these years from just a single conversation. Angela explains that it is because she remembers everyone she meets, not to mention that she remembers the conversation and that Claudio hasn’t changed at all. But this time, Claudio can confidently answer that he has found the right place for himself at the casetta dell’orso.
Nicoletta has not been part of the audience for most of this episode, and she doesn’t get to learn what we have learned about Claudio’s past, another thing that distinguishes this episode from the others. Instead, the episode ends with a cheery Nicoletta who has been more preoccupied with her own development as a chef. It is time to consider the spring menu for the casetta dell’orso, and Teo has decided that this might be an opportunity for Nicoletta to think of a menu for the staff meals. This is a great step for Nicoletta, and Teo’s declaration that he will go easy on her lest she is scared away just spurs her on.
Poor Nicoletta: the preview for the next episode implies that her first attempt at suggesting a staff meal menu item is less than stellar, which may look good but is lacking in the taste department.