This show is a little bit different in many respects. One, it's only coming out every other week, so there's a bit of a break between episodes. Two, it's meant for an older demographic. I suspect the two are tied together, in that they think that we slightly older folk are more patient and understanding, and have better memory retention. Who thought that?
What They Say
Italy, Rome. When she was a child, Nicoletta was taken in by her grandmother so that her mother could remarry. Now grown up, she leaves everything in the countryside behind to visit her mother and her mother's second husband, a ristorante owner. To her surprise, her stepfather did not know his wife had a daughter!
A ristorante she had previously visited, casetta dell'orso is hosted by a cast of dreamy, cool gentlemen who all happen to wear glasses. This curious restaurant's staff include cameriere (waiters) Claudio, Luciano, and Vito, GiGi the sommelier, and chefs Furio and Teo. Because women find the staff so enchanting, business is bustling and reservations are extremely hard to come by at this little Roman treasure.
Amongst all this, Nicoletta decides, on a whim, to work at the ristorante. Gradually, she begins to become interested in one of the gentlemen...
Delicious food and dreamy gentlemen await at the ristorante, casetta dell'orso. For everyone who works there, a tender connection to the hearts of each visitor is spun, and the curtain raises on a story about these first-rate Italian gentlemen in spectacles.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Episode 4: Casetta dell'orso
We open at a coffee bar, with the owner (Lorenzo) and Olga sitting and drinking some coffee. The barista looks rather familiar (because it's clearly Luciano). But they all seem not to know each other.
Apparently, a very special guest is coming to the restaurant tonight. An older looking man with his young granddaughter comes into the restaurant, and is seated. He (his name is Marzio) is greeted very warmly by the staff and Gigi even comes out with an expensive bottle of wine for him (and since it's been somewhat established that Gigi is a connoisseur, this is certainly a high mark of honor). Nicoletta, curious, spies on the situation, but is then brought out to meet their guest, who is revealed to be a former employee of the restaurant, one from the earliest beginnings of it (cue a convenient flashback to Nicoletta having caught a glimpse of a photo with this man in it in the back room).
While this is all happening, we suddenly get taken to a hospital bed, where Olga is lying, with Lorenzo at her side. Apparently, she's been overworked and perhaps collapsed from exhaustion (we do not see what led up to her hospitalization). Lorenzo promises to take Olga back to the coffee bar where her favorite barista (the older gentleman with glasses) works to cheer her up. However, when Lorenzo goes there on his own to make sure the man is still there, he does not find him there. Apparently, he stopped working there the week before.
We are apparently doing some unannounced time jumping.
Afterward, GiGi has come with Lorenzo to pick up Olga, and they talk about the barista leaving, which disappoints Olga. Later, at Lorenzo's house, he and GiGi (yes, GiGi apparently can talk) discuss their needs: a cameriere (waiter), and that barista, Luciano. In the end, after a long negotiation, Lorenzo manages to get both Luciano and an acquaintance of his, a man named Claudio, to join the staff. Vito comes later after seeing an advertisement for "older, bespectacled men." And so, we swiftly move forward to the opening of the Casetta dell'orso (translation note: in my first review, I made a slight error in the translating the name of the restaurant, since I added an extra "s." "casetta dell'orso" is the "bear's little house." Still a rather odd name for a restaurant). Marzio was there from the start, and was an old friend and co-worker of Lorenzo, when he ran a restaurant next to a winery. The original chef was a woman, Vanna, and the sous chef was a young man, Dario. Claudio, Luciano, and Vito were the original camariere, and Gigi, the sommelier. And apparently everyone wore spectacles (even Vanna) except for Lorenzo and Dario.
We go back to the present, where Lorenzo and Olga are apparently late in showing up, so Nicoletta is learning about the restaurant's history from Marzio. Perhaps the flashbacks we see are in place of any narrative exposition. We get some more scenes of the present and the past, and learn a little something more about the restaurant and the people tied to it.
From the preview, it looks like we will be continuing this trip down Memory Lane.
With this episode, we get an origin story and a look back into the past that Nicoletta knows nothing about. We learn that Olga's fetish for older gentlemen with glasses goes back all the way to the founding of the restaurant (and is, in fact, the cause of Casetta dell'orso being what it is). The romantic travails of Nicoletta seem to have receded (as has Nicoletta herself), while the stories of the restaurant staff and the history of the restaurant itself have taken center stage. For a slice of life show, this is definitely something rather different as we're getting the Japanese interpretation of Italian life. Certainly interesting in its own way. The characters themselves begin to develop as well, as we learn more and more about them, especially the owner, Lorenzo, in this, and probably the next episode. This show seems to be taking its time, much like a meal at a fancy restaurant.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
Apple Mac Mini with 1GB RAM, Mac OS 10.5 Leopard.