Ristorante Paradiso (Manga)
Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: March 2010
Price: $12.99
Creator: Natsume Ono
Format: 176 pgs.; B&W
ISBN: 978-1-4215-3250-9
Age Rating: OT/Older Teen
ICv2 Rating: 4 Stars out of 5

Nicoletta moves to Rome to find her mother who abandoned her as a toddler.  Olga is now married to a restaurant owner who does not know she has children.  Begging her daughter to keep her secret, Olga gives Nicoletta a job in the restaurant.  Soon, though, Nicoletta’s feelings for the older, divorced headwaiter Claudio draw the two women together despite their rough past.

“There are so many different shapes to love.”  Nicoletta’s realization is the main point of this slice-of-life tale.  There aren’t a lot of overly dramatic proclamations or battles of wits.  All of the characters have distinct personalities--though the restaurant uniform, which includes glasses, makes them too similar at first--and all of those personalities blend just as the ingredients in fine food.  Ono’s rough, thin-lined art is more realistic than in her work not simple, though no less effective.  Readers who loved Fumi Yoshinaga’s Antique Bakery series will feel a similar kinship in this kitchen-based manga, though it is a quieter tale in many ways.  For those who want to know more about the world Ono has created, VIZ will be releasing the companion series Gente: The People of Ristorante Paradiso beginning in July.

--Snow Wildsmith: Librarian for the Mountain Island Branch of the Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenberg County in North Carolina.