Ravi DeRossi knows a thing or two about veganism. The restaurateur has been vegetarian for most of his life, and that has played into his Derossi Global restaurant business. DeRossi is known for his New York City joints Avant Garden, Fire & Water, Ladybird, and more — all of which are now vegan restaurants. His newest addition: an East Village-meets-the-open-range saloon called HoneyBee’s.
DeRossi’s restaurants haven’t always had vegan menus. “After spending time with an ill pet, I became more worried about my conscience,” DeRossi explains. “I contemplated the suffering of all animals and living with the weight of the damage that I was doing. I immediately transitioned all of my properties into vegan menus over the past 3 years to make a difference.”
Veganism has been growing in popularity across the nation, oftentimes rallying around the phrase “plant-based”, but vegan restaurants are killing it in urban areas like NYC and its animated and eclectic neighborhood (to say the least), East Village. “The East Village is already a treasure trove of the rare, weird and unexpected,” DeRossi says of the neighborhood as a home for HoneyBee’s. “We hope HoneyBee's [will] be a diamond in the rough between the dive bars and laundromats of the Lower East Side.”
Though DeRossi has an Indian background, he wanted the menu at HoneyBee’s to be something he hadn’t attempted before. A friend of DeRossi’s and the beverage director at HoneyBee’s, Sother Teague, grew up in the South. DeRossi took inspiration from his finger-lickin’ roots to create the menu at HoneyBee’s.
“Barbecue is a basic component of [Southern] culture,” says DeRossi. “Meals are cooked and prepared slowly to feed large groups and are a common part of social activities. At HoneyBee’s we use smoke, char and time to achieve the same flavors from vegetables. Coaxing flavor from food is part of a deeper heritage of American cuisine. Attached to that heritage is the experience of enjoying your company and appreciating the time you share. We hope to bring that down south mentality to the city.”
Of the barbecued veggies on the menu, DeRossi’s favorites are the pulled pork (made from seitan and mushrooms) and corn ribs, which he says taste surprisingly like their meaty counterparts.
When designing Honeybee’s, DeRossi was aiming to refine the Wild West for New York City with some polished hardwood floors, red accents, and a touch of classic piano music for all the feels. A New Boots bourbon cocktail or SoCo-based Alabama Slammer is sure to get you in the country mood — a comforting vibe for Southern city transplants and New Yorkers alike. So, hang up your spurs and pull up a seat at the corner of Avenue A and 6th St. — HoneyBee’s is open for dinner and open late every single day of the week!