Eataly Las Vegas: A sprawling new food hall

Eataly Las Vegas: A sprawling new food hall
Eataly Las Vegas: A sprawling new food hall

LAS VEGAS — The first sign the new Eataly Las Vegas is different than the Italian food hall’s outlets in New York, Chicago and other cities?

A dancing bull mosaic etched into the floor at the casino end of the sprawling food and drink extravaganza at Park MGM hotel.

Visitors who head straight for Eataly’s bustling salami and cheese station or pizza, pasta and pastry counters might overlook it, but the move could cost them at the gambling tables.

The bull, modeled after a mosaic at a 154-year-old shopping center in Milan, Italy, is said to be a good luck charm for those who spin on it three times counterclockwise.

“Maybe you’ll win a jackpot,” an Eataly security guard said to a visitor about to take a spin on an early January morning.

Eataly Las Vegas opened two days after Christmas, becoming the sixth U.S. location and 37th in the world. The first one opened in January 2007 in Torino, Italy. The name is a combination of Eat and Italy; the chain originally was going to be called Eat Italy.

The marketplaces have become tourist destinations, especially in the United States, so Las Vegas, a gambling, food and entertainment mecca, is a natural addition.

Store director Manolis Chatzimichalis, who previously ran Eataly Los Angeles in Century City, California, expects the Las Vegas Eataly to have a higher proportion of tourists to locals than most, at 80 percent, at least initially. Officials are trying to lure local customers with free parking and discounts on retail goods.

Sarah and Tony Crowe happened upon Eataly while walking the Las Vegas Strip during a 12-night Vegas vacation over Christmas.

The London couple had never heard of Eataly (a London location isn’t due to open until 2020) but was intrigued after peeking through the curtains before it opened.

They returned on Jan. 2 to celebrate Sarah’s 50th birthday. They ordered the $29 Salumi e Formaggi Misti, the signature meat and cheese board at La Salumeria Cheesemonger & Kitchen, with a side of olives, and toasted with two glasses of white wine. They lingered for more than an hour.

“This is almost like being in Italy or Spain,” Sarah Crowe said. “It is just that feeling you can have a little bit of everything.”

Her 55-year-old husband added, “We will definitely come every time we come to Vegas.”