Mario returns to Borgo Capanne, where he worked for 3 years in a Trattoria, just in time for the chestnut harvest. He and Rooney do a guest-chef stint in which we watch Mario create five mini-masterpieces.
At an inn in the Emilian countryside, Mario and Rooney devote a rainy day to tortellini with a little help from the locals.
Mario Batali's in pursuit of ham. His sidekick, Rooney, wants to explore the haunts of his operatic idle. They both find plenty of what they're looking for.
In Cesenatico and Rimini, Mario and Rooney pay homage to seafood and the Italian filmmaker, Fellini. At a fish auction house they purchase a crate of mixed seafood and create Brodetto, an easy yet complex seafood stew. Plus Mario makes the cocktail, Negroni.
The town of Modena is known for its Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale, artisan-made, aged balsamic vinegar. Mario gives an insider perspective on how Trebbiano grapes are transformed into vinegar and aged for decades.
Mario Batali and Rooney learn about rare ingredients and traditions at "Parmesan School 101," a real-life cheese-making high school located at Dairy 101 in Parma. They also sample the local classic tripe stew, Trippa alla Parmigiana of Parma.
Visit the "Culinary Capital of Italy," Bologna, where Mario and Rooney get a hands-on lesson in hand-rolled pasta. Then, after a visit to the market, learn the intricacies of making a perfect bolognese "rag" at home.
Mario and Rooney visit a spa in Brisighella, a hillside town renowned for its olive oil. They tour the local olive grove and indulge in a snack of Pinzimonio--fresh vegetables with olive oil. Later, Mario prepares pasta with porcini mushrooms at his friend's inn.
Rooney asks Mario a simple question: "What is mortadella?" And from there, the two embark on an odyssey through the world of Italian salted and cured pork products (salumi). They visit the Alcisa Salami Plant and the mother church of Salumeria Tamburini.
On a trip to the Veneto, Mario and Rooney stop to investigate the spectacular Villa Dominio di Bagnoli, a 17th-century palace complete with elaborately manicured gardens. In the villa kitchen, Mario makes four different kinds of polenta and risotto.
In pursuit of Marco Pantani, Italy's great bike racer and national hero, Mario and Rooney speed through the countryside on racing bikes, all the while sampling Italian food in the fast lane; Visits to Cantagallo, Modena and Cesenatico.
Mario and Rooney pay a visit to Gelateria Gianni and the Babbi Cone Factory to learn the secrets of preparing gelato and the wafers it is served in. Mario and Gianni also share recipes for pizzelle and tromp l'oeil.