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A round, thin crust pizza cheese and pepperoni.
Roberta’s Pizza is among the vendors at Urbanspace.
Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

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N.Y.’s Famed Roberta’s Pizza Arrives in Chicago as Part of Urbanspace Food Hall

Tour Urbanspace’s downtown location before Wednesday’s opening

As Chicagoans cautiously return to downtown, they’re going to need a space to eat. Urbanspace wants to be that oasis, a 12,000-square-foot food hall with 12 restaurants and a bar located steps from State Street in the Loop.

The lumpia is back.

Urbanspace is a New York food hall operator that has plans for pair of Chicago venues. They’ve brought with them Roberta’s Pizza, a hip spot in Brooklyn surrounded by shipping containers that specializes in modern Neapolitan pies. There are a few more N.Y. imports with Pita Yeero and Plant Junkie. They’re accompanied by notable local vendors such as Isla Pilipina, Happy Lobster, and Edzo’s Burger Shop. A bar is operated by Footman Hospitality, the company behind Bangers & Lace, Sparrow, and Little Victories. Ownership is also touting online ordering where customers can order from multiple vendors at once.

A gordita stuffed with cheese.
Spanglish serves gorditas at the food hall.
Spanglish is one of 12 restaurants.

This is Chicago’s first food hall to open in 2021, and ownership is trying to create a safe space, and that starts with proper ventilation. Each of the 12 vendors have stalls equipped with ventilation hoods, as cooking happens behind each counter, not at some hidden away central kitchen like other food halls. That gives Urbanspace an advantage, but the installation posed a challenge to the contractors at Level Construction. It’s hard to achieve the needed airflow while downtown in a crowd of skyscrapers. They turned to a special air filtration system, which is the size of a small room. Level says it’s the first such system in Chicago, one that “scrubs all the grease from the multiple restaurant exhausts and cleans it before releasing it back into the environment.”

Two folks fist bumping over a counter.
Bhoomi co-owner Ajit Kalra and Spanglish co-owner Frank Morales Jr. fist bump after Kalra sample one of Morales’ dishes.

Additionally, crews added an unplanned mezzanine level with seating to allow for more social distancing for diners. Other interesting tidbits include the use of eco-friendly materials; one of the front booths has finishes made from repurposed chopsticks. Also, look for artwork and murals inside from local artists.

The food hall replaces a Walgreens drugstore. Urbanspace also has plans for a 14,000-square-foot food hall inside Willis Tower. That location should open in winter 2022.

Urbanspace Washington, 15 W. Washington, open 7 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. on weekdays; 7 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Saturday.

A view looking down from the mezzanine.
Crews added seating with a mezzanine during the pandemic.
A sushi counter
Sushi Dokku is back.
A wide look at the space.

Urbanspace Washington

15 W Washington St, Chicago, IL 60602
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