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Uptown, Edgewater, Rogers Park

Sfera Brings Sicilian Street Food To Edgewater After Years On Farmers Market Circuit

Sfera started selling its products like arancini at farmers markets three years ago. The Broadway storefront is the business's first brick and mortar location.

Steven Jarczyk and Daniela Vitale opened a Sfera storefront after years of working farmers markets.
Courtesy Kristen Mendiola
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EDGEWATER — After getting its start at farmers markets and then a ghost kitchen during the pandemic, Sfera is now slinging its take on Sicilian street food from a Broadway storefront.

Sfera opened May 11 at 5759 N. Broadway, the latest move to expand the three-year-old business.

Friends Steven Jarczyk and Daniela Vitale started Sfera by selling their take on arancini, the ball of fried Italian rice that is popular in Sicily, where Vitale’s family is from and where she spent portions of her childhood.

“It’s a traditional Sicilian street food staple and it’s just delicious,” Vitale said. “My culture is the inspiration, but it was very much [Jarczyk] and I working on them and putting a Chicago twist on them.”

Credit: Courtesy Kristen Mendiola
Sfera’s “arancini classico” includes beef ragu, risotto and morzarella served with marinara sauce.

Jarczyk and Vitale met at a Jefferson Park gym and bonded over their experience with European cuisine: Jarczyk who helped open restaurants in Europe and Vitale with her Sicilian roots.

The two decided arancini would work just as well at farmers markets as in Sicilian streets. Arancini is often stuffed with vegetables or cheese — foods easily procured in a farmers market. Jarczyk said the pair would often use other farmers market vendors’ items in their arancini. Sfera is Italian for “sphere.”

“It’s a great vehicle for great, local food,” Jarczyk said.

The friends launched Sfera and expanded to a few North Side farmers markets before the pandemic caused the cancellation of those events.

To pivot, Jarczyk and Vitale set up in a North Side ghost kitchen, where they operated as a delivery business — but it wasn’t ideal, Jarczyk said.

“We weren’t interacting with our customers,” Jarczyk said. “We want to be a community spot, where if you’re a commuter, [Sfera] is a part of your morning routine.”

So they began looking for a permanent location and were pointed to the Broadway storefront that used to house Cookies & Carnitas.

Sfera still makes appearances at the Logan Square and Andersonville farmers markets.

Credit: Joe Ward/Block Club Chicago
Sfera opened an Edgewater restaurant in May 2022.

The LGBTQ-owned Sfera is open for breakfast and lunch. The business offers multiple espresso drinks plus coffee and tea. It serves breakfast sandwiches featuring foccacia and egg fritatta. It also has a breakfast pizza with a garlic ricotta base, bacon, mozzarella cheese and a baked egg.

Lunch items include their take on a muffuletta sandwich (mortadella, capicola, salami, provolone with olive giardiniera relish on a focaccia bun) plus other Italian sandwiches, slices of pizza and salads.

Sfera has multiple versions of arancini that are ready-to-serve. The “arancini classico” includes beef ragu, risotto and mozzarella served with marinara sauce and the “arancini porcini” includes imported porcini mushrooms, local mushrooms, fontina cheese and served with truffle aioli.

Sfera has a small seating area and much of the food works well as take-out or on-the-go meals, the owners said. Already that model has proved popular with some neighbors and the workers rebuilding the Red Line just around the corner from Sfera, Jarczyk and Vitale said.

“The neighbors are really excited,” Vitale said. “Everybody has been so kind.”

Sfera is open 7 a.m.-3 p.m. Tuesday-Friday and 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. For more information on Sfera, click here.

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