Home is where the love is.
And ideally, home is also where you find the best meals, and by the end of A Taste of Christmas, Natalie found love, home, family, and some delicious food.
It doesn't get any better than that.
Christmas came early in the form of a sweet little movie about a restaurant that starred Gilles Marini and had casual Italian spoken throughout the film. Both are on my list of weaknesses.
Gilles Marini playing a chef named Stefano was the icing on the cake and conjured up some Switched at Birth nostalgia from when he played a chef named Angelo.
Stefano was a bit of a grump, but he was passionate about his food. As passionate as Lifetime is when it comes to blending Italian-American films and playing up all the fun food, family, Italianglish tropes.
Natalie was such a sweetheart, likable, clumsy, optimistic, quirky, and whimsical. They both were exactly what the other needed in their life, so watching the two of them fall for one another was a joy.
She fell first, and when you have a ridiculously attractive man with an Italian accent who not only cooks but will feed you, then, honestly, how can you blame the woman?
Natalie looked at Stefano the same way I used to look at the server when my favorite dish arrived.
Natalie was bold and so optimistic it almost made your teeth hurt. But she was admirable for it.
She descended on their town, made up her mind that she wanted her cousin's restaurant to open early and to feed stranded carolers for Christmas, and she did everything in her power to make sure that happened.
In part, it was evident that Natalie needed something to do for the holidays. She was accustomed to spending them with Olivia, and it was a huge blow that a snowstorm in Italy almost kept Olivia from arriving home on time.
Stefano put up a fight at first, but he needed the push that Natalie gave him. They were the embodiment of that dreamer/realist quote from Modern Family.
There are dreamers and there are realists in this world. You’d think the dreamers would find the dreamers, and the realists would find the realists, but more often than not, the opposite is true. You see, the dreamers need the realists to keep them from soaring too close to the sun. And the realists, well, without the dreamers, they might not ever get off the ground.”
Stefano was a phenomenal chef, and he was passionate about food and his and Olivia's restaurant, but part of him was afraid to take the risk.
He wanted everything to be perfect, and if he kept waiting on that, then the opportunity they would have to put themselves out there and succeed would pass.
Natalie wasn't the type of person to allow something like that to happen, so something as small as providing food for a critic and carolers was what the restaurant needed.
Of course, they only had days to pull of what was an impossible feat based on Stefano's many Italian rants. You knew someone as talented as him would be able to pull off the menu at a moment's notice regardless of his grumbles.
Natalie (with her event planning skills) and the adorable BeeBee were able to pull off the Christmas decorating in no time at all.
However, things like the plumbing issues could have ruined them. Thank heavens Jake was able to figure that out. He was such a cutie, and he and BeeBee, with all of their awkward adolescent flirtation, were adorable.
Despite their common goal and some similarities, Natalie and Stefano were often too distracted by their differences. They had a different approach to everything they did.
Natalie was someone who relied on things like intuition and her gut, and Stefano had a logical approach to everything in his life, including love.
Oh, Stefano, there is no logic and rationale to love. Oddly enough, Natalie assumed that Stefano's logic would lead him to Ariella, but did anyone ever buy Ariella as another romantic option?
For one, Ariella came across as very young, so the chemistry she and Stefano had whenever they shared scenes felt more like an indulgent brother with a younger sibling.
Ariella had her moments, like when she and Stefano rudely carried on entire conversations during the pasta making scenes in Italian, effectively leaving Natalie out of it.
But they didn't have anything that felt romantic. Hell, before Ariella's arrival during that scene, they were giving us all the romantic trope goodness with Stefano standing behind Natalie and helping her knead the dough.
One of the best scenes anyone could be inspired by from Ghost was that pottery scene, and I welcome any version and similarity to it in film and shows. Cooking is just as sexy as pottery, and there's something about that hand porn.
Stefano's list needed more on it, and Ariella required a more potent presence and personality for her to pass as his logical choice.
In that sense, Ariella serving as a contrivance or obstacle didn't work.
In a similar vein, it didn't feel as though there was anything at stake with Mr. Croaker. He knew he expected something last minute from a restaurant that didn't plan to open soon and would have prepared.
He also knew that the restaurant was going out on a limb and essentially doing he and the carolers a favor by providing a meal for La Festa di Natale.
Even if Croaker was a harsh food critic who could make or break any small restaurant business, he would've been a total scoundrel for giving them anything other than a glowing review.
The ingratitude after their hospitality would've ruined him before it did Stefano and Olivia.
Nevertheless, their worry did give us classically amusing moments like Natalie and Stefano peeking out from behind the door to make sure Croaker enjoyed their food.
It also gave us that moment where it was evident Natalie had rubbed off on Stefano and affected him as much as he did her when he burned his panettone.
He was too busy making googly eyes at her and updating the recipe he gave her to include Thyme.
Come on, Natalie! The man, an Italian man, an Italian man who professionally cooks, gave you (a disaster child in the kitchen), his secret recipe for the sauce you love AND added an ingredient you recommended.
What more did Natalie need to comprehend that Stefano returned her feelings?
You could tell Stefano concluded Natalie was the woman for him when she moved heaven and earth (and lucked up with the suprise arrival of Olivia) to get him the olive oil that reminded him of Italy.
Is anyone else wondering how Olivia managed to track that olive oil down? You know, other than the fact that Nia Vardalos played her, and she is an utter queen.
It wasn't enough of Olivia, in my opinion, but she made every minute count, the same goes for her friend, Savannah.
Anyway, Natalie and Stefano both are sentimental saps, and they deserve each other.
You could say that A Taste of Christmas was nothing short of awesomeness.
Over to you, Lifetime Fanatics. Did you enjoy this one?
Are you, too, craving homemade pasta from scratch and trying to recall what happened to that recipe your Sicilian great-grandmother gave you when you were ten for her special sauce that totally takes three days to make?
OK, maybe you're just craving pasta and perusing Grub Hub as we speak instead. Anyway, hit the blue SHOW COMMENTS button below and let me know.
Jasmine Blu is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.