"A mysterious restaurant is on a road just a little ways from the center of Rome."
The plot revolves around a group of older looking men, who work at a restaurant called "Casetta Dell’orso". Each worker wears eye glasses when they are on duty. And this in fact is what makes the restaurant stand out from the others in Rome. One day the staff gets greeted by a women from America, who in turn comes to them wanting to train with the crew. As the anime progresses, each member of the cast is brought in the spotlight, and gets there own in depth story as to how they ended up working there, along with other interesting tid-bits. It does stay linear in this aspect, but brings so many different unique twists on everyone’s story, that most shouldn’t mind this fact. Now because this anime is more of a slow paced down to earth story, everything in it’s plot is very realistic. And a lot of the drama that is brought to the table comes in the form of relationships, complicated family issues, to mixed feeling among characters. All of this is knitted very well together to make quite a compelling and deep storyline. Even though Nicolette is the main character of the story, they all get well balanced scenes, which is good as there is nobody in this that will ever leave the viewer with a big black question mark as to who they are. So be prepared for lots of dialog in this. Now not everything in this will please viewers. As mentioned earlier, the story is quite slow paced, and there really is no over all big plot to this anime. Simply put, it’s a story about life in a restaurant, and I actually found it quite dissapointing that the restaurant theme wasn’t used to it’s fullest. So don’t expect to get any kind of explanation as to how certain dishes are prepared, as the story is more character driven than anything else. Which isn’t a bad thing really, since they really do turn out to be the backbone of this anime. The ending is quite fitting, and should satisfy most.
Regarding possible offensive material. Ristorante Paradiso contains very little in this aspect. There are occasional suggestive situations, but they are done in a quite tasteful manner, never for show. The only thing I would say that some viewers might find a bit disturbing, is that the main lead female Nicoletta, shows attraction to men that are old enough to be her father.
The music track really shines in this. You get the traditional tracks one would hear if they were in Paris, Italy and of course...Rome. The opening theme is quite relaxing, as is the ending theme, and actually does mix well with it’s environment’s theme. Voice acting is also quite good. All character voice are done with maturity and calm, and really do bring the characters to life. Overall, it’s quite an endearing soundtrack.
This was the only real thing I didn’t like about the anime, it just didn’t feel like the animation was up to par regarding what it could have been. Quite a bit of the color scheme is pretty bland at times. Some may argue that it was done purposely in order to create a certain style to the anime. Regardless though, it still has a nice amount of detail to it. Case in point: being that the cast is of different style ages right? And the artists really worked over time to make sure that the characters looked their appropriate age. All the male characters look like they really are in their 40s and 50s. While others, such as Nicolette, appear to be in their 20’s. So while the animation is by no means pushing any boundaries, it’s still nice to look at, and detailed in the places you would want it to be..
As mentioned earlier, each member gets his or her own spotlighted episode. Considering that this is only an 11 episode series, you wouldn’t expect this to have much depth to it. Surprisingly though it does, and the best compliment I can give the cast, is that you really are able to get into their heads, and with many you can even read their thoughts. They have a good amount of layers to their personality, and you will want to push on in the show just to see why a certain character acts a certain way, as little tid-bits are explained as things progress. There was one draw back to this category though, and that comes in the form of Nicolette herself. At the beginning I was expecting her to really develop over the course of the series, and while she did have a bit of development to her, it really wasn’t much. As she tended to just remain in the background "observing" the other cast of character’s lives, and ended up feeling more like a prop to the series. Even still, a wonderful memorable cast that feel interesting, yet down to earth at the same time.
If you are looking for a deep and relaxing slice of life anime with a nice pace to it, then you will enjoy Ristorante Paradiso. While it might disappoint some that were expecting a series that centers around food, it still has a lot to offer the viewer who can appreciate it's plot and themes. So if you were looking for your next anime entree, then your appetite is about to be fed!