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Fans of the initial season of Aziz Ansari’s Netflix-produced series Master of None will recall the main character’s love of food and trendy restaurants. It could be said that the NYC dining scene was as essential to the show’s plot as any character. Much has been penned since Season One about Ansari’s great taste in restaurants.
The show’s second season suggests Ansari has given up any pretense that his show is anything but an excuse for him to eat great food at hot restaurants. Nearly every episode has a dining focus, and the characters talk more about food than they do about relationships, race relations, or any of the other themes that were central to Season One.
Here are the 12 greatest food moments from Master of None, Season Two. Warning: minor spoilers ahead.
The first two episodes take place in Italy, where Dev (played by Ansari) is living in a small town called Modena. In the first episode, Dev has planned a solo meal at Hosteria Giusti for his birthday. There, he meets a woman, Sara, who has accidentally reserved a table for the following month and is told the restaurant is full. Dev invites her to join him at his table. “If this gets weird, by which I mean, if you get weird, then I’m going to put my headphones in, listen to a podcast, and just eat the food,” Sara says. “I won’t even look at you—it will be like we’re eating alone,” Dev replies, “Well, if you get weird… I’ll do the same thing. That’s a really good plan.”
In the second episode, Dev’s best friend, Arnold, comes to Italy to visit Dev and attend his ex-girlfriend’s wedding. The two men head to the local market, Mercato Albinelli, where they sample strawberries and cheese, chatting with shopkeepers. “It’s amazing, it’s like an Italian wonderland in here,” says Arnold. “I got no girls here,” Dev says. “You got no girls, but you got some amazing bites. So what do you want to do next?” Arnold asks. “I mean, I pretty much just planned on us eating all day with very minimal breaks,” says Dev. “I’m into it. I mean, I downed a whole bottle of Pepcid AC on the plane. I’m all Pepped up, ready to go,” Arnold replies.
Walking around Modena, Dev and Arnold find themselves in front of Osteria Francescana, the best restaurant in Europe. Arnold casually mentions he’s used his connections to get a reservation for the two of them there. We next see them in the restaurant’s private dining room. Chef Massimo Bottura makes a cameo appearance, personally serving a progression of courses. The third is tortellini. “One is very small,” says Bottura, gesturing to the plate set in front of Dev, who’s 5-foot-7. “And this is a little bit bigger,” he adds, gesturing to the plate set in front of Arnold, who’s a full foot taller than Dev. “It’s like the little bud, big bud of pasta,” Arnold points out.
In a flashback in episode three, a young Dev tries bacon for the first time at a friend’s house. His mom calls just then. “Dev, bacon is pork. We are Muslim. We are not allowed to eat pork,” she tells him. “I can’t eat it?! But it’s so good!” he replies. He stares at his plate for a long moment, then picks up another piece and takes a bite, smiling in obvious ecstasy.
After Dev corrupts his devout cousin with a cubano sandwich at Slick Willie—the cousin’s first taste of pork—they scheme to skip the Eid prayer to go to “Hog Wild Weekend,” a barbecue-centered food festival, at Smorgasburg, where they gleefully devour pulled-pork sandwiches, brisket, ribs, and many other illicit foods.
Dev goes to Thai Villa with his extended family. Dev orders crispy pork with broccoli, thereby “coming out” to his observant Muslim family that he’s not as religious as they are. “I’m actually not that religious. And I eat pork,” he says. “But it’s okay. Because I’m a good person. And I’m 33 years old, and I can make those decisions, and I can eat what I want. And I want to eat the crispy pork with broccoli.” His mother immediately pinches his arm. At home later, his parents scold him. “We could have gone to the seafood place. None of this would have happened,” his dad says. “Really? That’s your takeaway after all this? That we should’ve had seafood?” Dev asks. “Yup. Good night,” his father says, and storms off.
In episode five, Dev meets the Anthony Bourdain-like Chef Jeff at Carbone. “Favorite taco in New York?” Chef Jeff challenges Dev. “Los Tacos No. 1, the al pastor,” Dev replies. “You fuckin’ kidding me bro? Me, too! I love that place! Holy shit! Pastor pals over here. You know where I gotta take you? El Faraon. Playa del Carmen, Mexico. Look at this. Look at that al pastor.” Chef Jeff brings up an Instagram photo on his phone. “Have you ever gotten sexually charged from looking at a picture of al pastor? Because I’m a rocket right now.”
After failing to get into the pricey, exclusive club 1OAK, a trio of taxi drivers runs into four attractive women who are standing outside Lucky’s Famous Burgers, jonesing for food. The burger joint has just closed, but it happens that a fourth flatmate of the cabbies works there. He opens it up for the two groups. Everyone bonds over burgers and fries and a dance party ensues.
Dev takes Chef Jeff to Agra Taj Mahal during episode seven. “I’m the only white guy in this restaurant,” Chef Jeff says. “That’s why it’s good. Don’t tell any other white people about it. I don’t want it to get ruined,” Dev replies.
Dev’s friend Brian learns that his father, Peter, is deciding between two women. “She cooks very good food,” he says of Linda, one of his choices. In the next scene, he’s at Linda’s house, ostensibly to end things with her. He begins his breakup speech as she sets a bowl of beef stew with kimchi in front of him. “These flavors—they’re phenomenal!” Peter exclaims. “I still have many more dishes I’d like to cook for you,” Linda says. With that promise, Peter ditches his breakup plans.
In episode eight, a very young Dev is at his friend Denise’s house for Thanksgiving. The following conversation goes down.
Denise’s mom, Catherine: Both of you [Dev and Denise] are minorities.
Denise: What’s a minority?
Catherine: It’s a group of people who have to work twice as hard in life to get half as far. And Denise, you’re a black woman, so you’re gonna have to work three times as hard. You’re both gonna be disenfranchised.
Denise: Like a McDonald’s?
Denise: McDonald’s is a franchise. When people open up their own McDonald’s, they just pay the big McDonald’s man a licensing fee so they can run it. That’s what a franchise is.
Catherine: Denise, how the hell you know what a franchise is, but you don’t know Dev ain’t black?
Dev: I’m confused. I’m a McDonald’s?
Catherine: You’re McDonald’s and Denise is a Burger King. Now both y’all sit on down so we can get ready to eat.
Denise’s Aunt Joyce: And I’m a big ol’ White Castle.
In episode nine, Dev and his Italian friend Francesca are at Tertulia. They’re told by the host they’re facing about an hour’s wait… and the kitchen closes soon so they may not make it. Francesca jokingly asks, “Should we just go to people and say, ‘Come on, eat faster! Faster!’” Dev then does what all of us who’ve been in a similar situation have ached to do. He leans over to a table of diners and shouts at them: “FINISH YOUR FOOD!”