Ravi DeRossi of Overthrow Hospitality loves mushrooms so much he is spearheading a three-month, all-mushroom restaurant in their newly christened pop-up space, &Beer, a 14-seat space adjacent to Proletariat, at 21 E. Seventh Street, between Second and Third Avenue in the East Village, starting May 2.
Mushrooms & Beer, which runs through at least the summer — potentially longer, says DeRossi — points to our having hit peak mushroom, with California rainstorms resulting in a mushroom boom; an HBO zombie ant fungus show, The Last of Us; and a nationwide revival in the interest in foraging for at least a decade.
Now there’s also a crop of urban warehouses hosting spaces for growing mushrooms in hydroponic farms — such as the city’s Mushroom Queens in Ozone Park since 2015, along with Smallhold mushroom farm, headquartered in Williamsburg since 2017. The latter two are where Overthrow gets their mushrooms, pretty much exclusively.
DeRossi, co-founder of Death & Company — whose vegetable-centric hospitality group which also includes Cadence with Shenarri Freeman, Amor y Amargo, The Fragile Flour, Rabbit, Ladybird, and Soda Club among others — didn’t always like mushrooms. In fact, “I hated them,” he says, until about a decade ago, when he was introduced to the hen-of-the-woods entree at Avant Garden, served with kohlrabi and pickled beech mushrooms. He says it has become a bestseller and has been on the menu since the restaurant opened.
Overthrow’s Avant Garden chef, Juan Pajarito, loves mushrooms, too, so it makes sense he’s creating the a la carte menu with dishes highlighted by the kind of mushroom: oyster (tempura with ponzu hot sauce); beech, (cauliflower cheese, nori butter, breadcrumbs); lion’s mane (dumplings with daikon sauce), and so on. Pajarito will continue to be executive chef at Avant Garden as well as oversee the pop-up.
Beer is a constant in the newly acquired space, with Ramon Manrique Hung of Proletariat overseeing the rotating selection European and local cans, bottles, and taps. Look for pours like Closer from Root and Branch brewing or Happy Medium lager from Threes Brewing, along with Oerbier, a Belgian dark ale from Brouwerij De Dolle brewers.