In 2010, Mario Batali opened a massive food and dining complex called Eataly in New York City that was part farmer’s market, part grocery store and part gourmet food court. Packed with top restaurants and artisan purveyors, The Atlantic called it “the supermarket of the future,” and the Chicago Sun-Times described it as “Disney World for foodies.” Smaller multi-purpose food complexes exist in other major cities around the world, but Las Vegas has never had anything remotely like it.
So when I heard about a new project called Market in Tivoli Village, it sparked a glimmer of hope we might finally be getting a small-scale version. Tivoli already has a Saturday farmer’s market (fresh52) that’s added a touch of real-city soul to the otherwise generic shopping mall. And the initial reports on Market promised a full-time collection of shops run by local purveyors, open seven days a week, that would include a collection of artisanal dining spots.
Even in conjunction with fresh52, Market isn’t going to make anyone think of Eataly or any similar big-city marketplace. Its small, locally-run businesses are a refreshing breath of fresh air at Tivoli. The food offerings, however, are severely limited. In fact, the entire first floor is still empty, with a handful of tables set up for diners, a barren counter area, and a sign promising a place called Taste Eatery & Market that will begin offering sandwiches, salads, groceries and specialty items “very, very soon.”
But upstairs, tucked behind the cute little pet shop and a gourmet cupcake store, you’ll find a hidden gem called View Wine Bar and Kitchen, which is actually a trio of establishments. In the front, you’ll find a retail outlet with a small collection of quality cheeses available to take home. Adjoining that is a small countertop restaurant. Walk a little further, and you’ll find a sprawling, beautifully decorated wine bar fronted by huge windows. (The view actually makes Tivoli look kind of quaint.) The offerings of each part of View are available throughout the entire establishment.
The food menu isn’t terribly large, but it’s diverse. It offers three types of small plates: those from the garden, those from the sea and those from the farm. Among them, you’ll find organic mushroom risotto ($10), clams steamed with chorizo and white wine ($9), tuna tartare tacos ($9), braised Colorado lamb shoulder ($14) and a pair of steaks ($16-$18). Offerings from the cheese shop include a trio of soups ($5-$6), a pair of flatbreads ($7-$9) and, of course, cheese and charcuterie ($9-$11).
Everything I’ve tried has been spectacular. The quality cheese didn’t surprise me since I knew what I was ordering. I was a bit shocked, however, by something called chicken pot pie “nuggets” ($7), which pack all of the traditional pot pie flavors into a surprisingly light, tempura-like batter. And the yummy dates stuffed with goat cheese and almonds and wrapped in prosciutto are about as local as you could ever want. The chef picks them himself from date palms he discovered growing inside of Tivoli.
My favorite dish so far, however, has been a grilled cheese sandwich ($6). Made with triple-crème brie, local honey and walnuts on brioche, it isn’t like any grilled cheese mom used to make.
Everyone I met during my two visits to View, including the manager, servers and chef, was a true foodie. The staff clearly understood all of the artisanal ingredients on the menu, where those ingredients came from and why they were superior to what you’ll find elsewhere. It also genuinely enjoys talking about food.
Market and the fresh52 market clearly aren’t going to convert Tivoli into a Summerlin Eataly — even after the first floor finally opens. But Market is already a breath of fresh air for the stale corporate complex. Having View as its centerpiece makes it even more impressive.
View Wine Bar & Kitchen Tivoli Village, 529-0090. Read more about the Las Vegas dining scene at www.almancini.net.