Plot: The Master of None’s Season 2 premiere plays like a black-and-white Italian film that spans a single day — the birthday of our hero Dev Shah (Aziz Ansari). When we left Dev at the end of Season 1, he had seen his relationship with girlfriend Rachel come unglued. Now, he’s living in an apartment in the small town of Modena in Northern Italy — which hey, just happens to be home to chef Massimo Bottura’s lauded Osteria Francescana, once ranked #1 on the World’s 50 Best — where he’s been residing for three months.
As charming and funny as Dev is normally, he is perhaps even more so when speaking Italian. He’s made a few friends in Modena and can confidently carry on conversations, but he’s single and unhappy. Fate smiles on Dev when he arrives at a popular restaurant for a birthday lunch — which he’s planning to eat alone; how depressing — and meets a young woman, Sarah (Clare-Hope Ashitey), who has mixed up the date for her reservation. The two decide to dine together and they hit it off. They spend the rest of the afternoon together and make plans to meet up the following weekend.
Alas, Dev doesn’t know Sarah’s last name. He only has her number programed in his phone, which is stolen moments after Sarah departs in a taxi. Dev eventually comes across the thief outside his home and convinces a police officer to search for the phone, but it isn’t found. Dev ends the day in bed trying to search for Sarah on the internet and contemplating how to respond to an “awkward birthday message” Rachel has emailed him.
Food breakdown: This episode is a love letter to the food and culture of Modena, a city that Aziz Ansari has spent some time in over the year. The first thing Dev does after waking up is visit a local cafe for an espresso. He’s serving an apprenticeship at a fresh pasta shop, a nice callback to the end of Season 1. Dev visits a separate cafe with his new friends, and at lunch, he and Sarah enjoy wine and what appears to be some pretty mind-blowing pasta: “Man alive, that is so good!” Sarah exclaims. The two enjoy gelato and more wine during their afternoon together. The thief’s mother is setting a table as the police officer searches for Dev’s phone, and the food smells so good, the officer invites himself to dinner. Before heading in for the night, Dev finishes his birthday at a wine bar with friends.
Best of None: The scene at the thief’s house is a wonderful example of how something delicious can stop someone in their tracks. After searching for Dev’s phone, the police officer can’t help himself from taking a sample out of a pot of ragù. “It tastes perfectly cooked,” he declares. “Mind if I take a seat?”