The team behind Tzuco, celebrity chef Carlos Gaytán’s show-stopping Mexican restaurant in River North, is making a splash by launching a new regional Italian restaurant blocks away. Ummo will open in July at a space once occupied by Billy Dec’s pioneering nightlife stalwart Rockit Bar & Grill.
Gaytán is now officially backed by a restaurant group, as his partners have created Somos Hospitality (“somos” translates from Spanish to “we are”). Ummo will tap into two hospitality trends that have swept the city since the year began: Italian cuisine and live-fire cooking. Chef and partner José Sosa, a former executive chef at Gibsons Italia, will emphasize the nuances of northern Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region and Puglia in the south with fresh pasta, meat, seafood, and vegetarian dishes (some of which will also be cooked over a live fire). This is Sosa’s show, where he’ll get to highlight the knowledge he’s accrued over more than a decade at Gibsons Restaurant Group and from numerous trips to Italy.
Gaytán has established a high profile in Chicago that dates back to 2013 at Mexique when he became the first Mexican-born chef to earn a Michelin star. At Ummo, his contributions will largely take place behind the scenes as a partner alongside Sosa and Somos co-founder Germán González, whose family owns more than 45 restaurants in Mexico and Madrid, according to Crain’s.
Ummo’s two-floor space will include a ground-floor dining room that seats 100 and a bar for 12, both designed by prolific local firm Studio K, also behind stylish spaces at Girl & the Goat (both in Chicago and Los Angeles), Monteverde, and Maple & Ash. Founder Karen Herold has opted for a subtle, neutral color scheme punctuated by details like an ombre herringbone flooring, an eye-catching copper countertop, and vintage jazz prints from Italian music festivals, according to a rep.
Upstairs, the team plans to open an as-yet-unnamed cocktail bar where patrons can sip wine and cocktails while lounging on credenzas, chaises, and leather couches. A Persian rug-laden ode to vintage ‘70s style, the bar will regularly host DJs, live music, and other performers. The space will also contain a private dining room for 16 and a “gaming area,” though details remain under wraps.
Stay tuned for more on Tzuco’s forthcoming sister restaurant in River North.
Ummo, 22 W. Hubbard Street, scheduled to open in July.