Nicole Brisson is grocery shopping on the Las Vegas Strip. The executive chef of Eataly Las Vegas, she's collecting ingredients as she moves around the sprawling new complex, which opened Dec. 27 at the Park MGM. First a stop at La Salumeria to pick up a selection of Italian cheeses and paper-thin strips of prosciutto and mortadella. Then a trip to the market for basics: Sardinian canned tomatoes; bucatini by Premiato Pastificio Afeltra, which has been making pasta since 1848; and Ligurian olive oil, pressed by a company so obsessed with quality, they include the GPS location of the olive trees in some of their pressings.
Grocery shopping complete, Brisson brings her basket of goodies to a tiny open kitchen with a handful of seats at the center of the store and market. While we sip on wine and nibble her selected cheeses, she gets to work, narrating each step of the cooking process as she moves from cutting board to burner to pasta cooker and back again. Half an hour later, dinner is served: a beautiful plate of bucatini all'Amatriciana made for a small party of guests by the executive chef herself.
That experience is called the Chef's Table, an intimate cooking lesson and meal that can be customized to fit diners' tastes and budget, whether they want a $65 sampling of wine and cheese or a $450 four-course meal with caviar and wine pairings. The experience is also exclusive to Las Vegas, a new Eataly offering developed just for the Strip.
And it's not the only element of Eataly Las Vegas that differs from other locations around the country and the world. While most Eataly outposts have a strong grocery element, where visitors can pick up imported treats to cook and try at home, the Strip location shrinks down the market in favor of more in-store enticements.
At Cucina del Mercato, another only-in-Vegas development, market stalls selling steaks, seafood and fresh pasta don't just offer their wares to go. If you like, they'll cook and plate them for you, for a $15 surcharge. Sure, you can sit down for dinner at La Pizza and La Pasta restaurant, but you can assemble your own Italian feast, moving between the Mercato counters to pick up a fresh fish crudo, ravioli and a steak to share.
That flexibility is what makes Eataly such a good fit for the Strip, where visitors often want to grab a quick bite without committing to a sit-down meal or arrive with large parties with different tastes and priorities. At the Park MGM, the Italian market functions as the resort food court, without a soggy fry or limp salad in sight.
Eataly also serves as the Strip-facing entrance of the Park MGM, welcoming guests off Las Vegas Boulevard with counters serving Nutella crepes and fresh pastries. That means the market never totally closes, although for now the only element that stays open throughout the night is Gran Caffe Milano, a bar serving drinks from noon to 7 a.m. Late-night food is on its way in the coming months, after the opening of Manzo on Feb. 13.
The final piece of the Eataly Las Vegas puzzle, Manzo is an upscale restaurant inspired by a classic Italian butcher shop and centered around a wood-burning grill running on a combination of white oak, applewood and coal. Most of the dishes will be cooked on that grill, using ingredients sourced as often as possible from around Nevada and nearby states. That makes Manzo another concept exclusive to Eataly Las Vegas (though it shares a name with a restaurant at Eataly NYC Flatiron) and another way the Italian market is making a home for itself on the Strip.