Manga Monday: Ristorante Paradiso

Natsume Ono

Ristorante Paradiso follows Viz's excellent release of Natsume Ono's not simple.  And while this book is very different from that first work (and much more light-hearted in tone), Ristorante Paradiso is still the beautifully-illustrated book that you'd expect from such a gifted creator.  This book is about a popular restaurant in Rome called Casetta dell'Orso, where the clientele must make reservations to get a seat and where the primary attraction (besides the delicious food) is the handsome waitstaff.  Women flock to the restaurant to moon over the men, all clad in eyeglasses (whether they need them or not).  But this isn't a typical kitchen manga about a girl who wants to learn how to make great food and finds she has the talent to do so.  Ristorante Paradiso views the restaurant through the eyes of Nicoletta, who was abandoned by her mother at a young age and put into the care of her grandparents, so that she could be with a man who did not want to be tied down by children.  Intending to get revenge upon her neglectful mother, Nicoletta travels to Rome to inform her mother's boyfriend, and owner of the restaurant in question, of her mother's deception.  But Nicoletta is drawn into the world of the restaurant and the men who work there, and despite herself, finds that she begins to understand her mother and even bond with her.  This is a nice heartwarming little story, much more carefree than the heavy material introduced in not simple, with some quiet, but powerful insights into the characters involved. There's a fun cast of supporting characters in the book, and some really touching moments that certainly make me glad to have picked this title up.  While the story of Nicoletta reuniting with her mother is told in this single volume, a sequel, Gente (the first volume of which traces the opening of the restaurant), is forthcoming as well.


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