At the age of 21, Nicoletta travels to Rome to find her mother, Olga, who abandoned her long ago. Nicoletta finds her at Casetta dell'Orso, a charming little restaurant owned by Olga's husband. The staff of bespectacled gentlemen welcomes Nicoletta warmly, but Olga's reception is not so pleasant. Olga has never told her husband that she ever had children -- and he must never know.
In exchange for Nicoletta's playing "the daughter of an old friend," Olga offers Nicoletta a place to live and an apprenticeship at the restaurant. Nicoletta fits in well among the unique personalities at Casetta dell'Orso. She gets along particularly well with the kindly headwaiter, Claudio, a divorced man who, after years, has still never taken off his wedding ring. As Nicoletta's feelings for Claudio become complicated, she finds a sympathetic ear in Olga, leading the estranged pair to form a friendship neither expected. But as they grow closer, the pressure exerted by the secret they share becomes too much to bear.