By Karen Gardner
Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races has always tried to give their customers a full sensory experience. There’s the visual of colorful gaming machines and roulette wheels. There are the sounds of the casino and the racetrack’s call to the post. Now, visitors who want a quick bite to eat can take in the tantalizing smells of homemade food, savor the tasty dishes and feel the luxury not found in most food courts.
The Eatery, which opened Nov. 11, gives casino guests a place to get a quick bite to eat, without feeling rushed and without eating mostly premade food. “It’s a sharp contrast from a traditional food court,” said Executive Chef Damien Hinck. “We cook what you order, with all fresh ingredients.”
The sauces for the pizzas are homemade. There are 54 beers on tap. There is an Asian noodle bar. There is coffee and fresh-fried doughnuts. The Eatery will make guests feel energized, as well as satisfied.
Celebrity chef Fabio Viviani, best known from “Top Chef” seasons five and eight, served as the project’s designer, and he worked with an architect to design a beautiful, appetizing area for customers to take a break. The Eatery first opened at Charles Town, and is being added to two other Hollywood Casino sites owned by Penn National, the parent company of Hollywood Casino.
The Fabio Viviani Hospitality Group has developed and operates over 20 restaurants across the United States. An Italian native, Viviani opened his first American restaurant, Café Firenze, in Moorpark, California. Today, he’s based in Chicago.
Guests have an array of choices at The Eatery. At Joe and Dough, there are coffee varieties and cappuccinos, lattes, mochas and macchiatos, iced and hot. There is hot tea, chai tea and hot chocolate. Doughnuts, desserts and bakery items are also on the menu.
There are two styles of pizzas at the Italian eatery, Mercato. Pizzas are served either Sicilian or Neapolitan style. Sicilian pizzas are made with a focaccia bread crust prepared in advance. Customers choose the toppings. These pizzas are sold by the slice.
For those who want a Neapolitan-style pizza, these round pizzas have a crispy crust with a toasted flavor. These pizzas are cooked to order and sold in 11-inch round sizes, just right for one or two people. Toppings on both pizzas include homemade sauces, fresh mozzarella cheese, a range of freshly cut and roasted vegetables and herbs, and top-quality Italian salami and Italian prosciutto.
“You wait a little bit for the Neapolitan pizzas,” Hinck said. “But it’s worth the wait.”
There are also salads, including a Tuscan chopped salad and a caprese salad. Croutons on the salads are made from the focaccia bread used to make the Sicilian crusts. The sandwich menu features a caprese sandwich and one called “The Mob,” which combines prosciutto, salami, pepperoncini, mozzarella, arugula and tapenade.
The Classic menu features 6-ounce Angus beef patty hamburgers, cooked to order. These are served on brioche buns, with your choice of cheese toppings. Other toppings include bacon, onion rings, and potato chips. Sauces include a signature barbecue sauce, made with smoked onions, and aioli sauce. Sauces are all freshly made in The Eatery’s kitchen.
Other menu items at The Classic include giant crispy chicken tenders, marinated in buttermilk and breaded and crispy chicken served with a bourbon-infused maple syrup. This sauce, like all sauces, is freshly made. There is a pesto chicken and a Po Boy, made with crispy white fried fish, grilled cheese and hot dogs.
Freshly made French fries and fried onion rings, made with a black and tan beer batter, are available. Other side orders include house-made chips, classic slaw, biscuits, soups and side salad.
The Zen Noodle has genuine Asian food, including a noodle bar with a variety of broths, prepared by chefs from Asia. There is a ramen noodle bowl, pho, mei nam noodles and wonton soup. “All the broths are house-made,” Hinck said. Other options include pot stickers, spring rolls and chicken satay. Entrees include General Tso’s chicken, beef and broccoli, chicken and broccoli, triple delight and fried rice or lo mein. Sushi lovers can enjoy California rolls and Philadelphia rolls.
All this food can be enjoyed in the lushly decorated food court, with seating for 200. The food court offers patrons a place to take a break from casino activities and people-watch, Hinck said.
You can also enjoy food at the Charles Town Drafthouse, where 54 beers are on tap. If beers aren’t your thing, there are cocktails. But for those who like a good brew, selections include craft beers, and drafts from all over the country. Flying Dog is well represented here, as is Blue Moon. There is Devil’s Backbone Vienna Lager, Bold Rock Cider and Leinenkugle’s Berry Shandy.
More information is at https://www.hollywoodcasinocharlestown.com/dining/the-eatery
Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races is located at 750 Hollywood Drive, Charles Town, WV