Urban Crosta sets sights on late-August opening in former Robert's Pizza space

From www.chicagotribune.com by Phil Vettel
Urban Crosta sets sights on late-August opening in former Robert's Pizza space

Robert Garvey had been ousted from his Robert's Pizza Co. restaurant only a few days in late June when the Hats Off Hospitality sign went up, promising a new concept in the space (355 E. Ohio St.).

Well, it's not exactly a brand-new idea, but HOH principals Felipe Ospina and Pepe Guzman will open Urban Crosta Pizzeria, featuring artisan pies and an ambitious beer, wine and cocktail program, on Aug. 28.

"News about available spaces travels fast," Ospina said about the quick turnaround. "I saw the opportunity, and took it."

This will be the first owned restaurant for HOH, a restaurant-consulting group. "This has been part of my dream," Ospina said, "since I moved to the U.S. in 2003 from Colombia."

The 60-seat interior has been remodeled slightly, but the stone oven that was part of Robert's Pizza Co. remains.

"While we will be using the same stone ovens, how we prepare our dough and the flavors we are capturing are entirely different," Ospina said. "My culinary team used an aged sourdough starter and allowed for a long maceration process to achieve our special recipe. You always hear about New York style, deep dish, Neapolitan pies and the like, but for us, it wasn't so much about the style as it was about the taste. The crust needs to be light and thin, but strong enough to hold the type of ingredients we all know and love."

Among the expected toppings (one pizza is called Good Ol' Margherita), there are also creative offerings such as skirt steak and chimichurri, artichoke with roasted cauliflower sauce, and barbecue chicken with pineapple and hot peppers.

Beyond pizzas, the menu includes cherry-tomato-confit bruschetta, a charcuterie board, and pork-beef meatballs in spicy tomato ragu.

Urban Crosta will be dinner-only initially, planning to add brunch hours and delivery service eventually.

Phil Vettel is a Tribune critic

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