For the past 10 years, beer fans have found their own glass of heaven in Tapastre, a Somerville eatery that pairs tapas with craft beers.
Now, those with a thirst and hunger for beer can find both a meal and a pint at Project P.U.B., a new rotating monthly brew pub restaurant that will be situated over Tapastre at 1 W. High Street.
Ever since Mike Proske, founder of both restaurants, purchased the singular building from his father in 2010, the upstairs floors have remained vacant following its stint as an Italian restaurant as Proske debated how to use the space. He toyed with the idea of opening a brewery, but earlier this year, he came up with a much more distinctive concept for his building.
Each month, Proske’s team will select one brewery – the first one being Founders Brewing Co. – and dedicate all of their taps to them as well as create a food menu with items cooked with the beer as well as those that can be paired with the beer. Project P.U.B., which stands for “pop-up brew pub,” will also be doing brewing collaborations with some of the local breweries.
For the food menu, the restaurant will be pulling some of the selections from a given brewery’s own food menu if they have one and also create appetizers ranging from $5 to $19 and entrees from $12 to $25. You can see the full menu by going to projectpubnj.com/menu.
Some of the standout items from their upcoming Founders Brewing Co. menu for November include the Blushing Monk sandwich with cranberry chicken salad, provolone, lettuce and tomato on a French roll as well as the Cheesy Does It sandwich with cheddar, Swiss, provolone and cream cheese on grilled multi-grain bread, all items which are from the actual Founders Brewing Co. menu and range from $9 to $12. A steady pub fare menu with about 15 to 20 items will also always be available for selection with items such as roasted beef marrow, thick-cut roasted pork belly, ahi tuna crudo and P.U.B. nuts and baked olives which range from $4 to $15.
Carlton Greenawalt of Union, Tapastre and Project P.U.B. chef, has worked with Proske for the past three and a half years and since he enjoys cooking with beer and has opened other brew pubs, Project P.U.B. is a natural fit for him.
To develop the Project P.U.B. menu, Greenawalt said that his strategy was to take it from the experts. “I want to work with people at the breweries and find out what kinds of things they like or what kinds of things they think goes with their beer,” he said. “However, I would never put something on a menu that I wouldn’t want to eat myself.”
Project P.U.B. will select breweries both large and small, in an effort to help support local breweries while also working with large breweries who have developed a following and have specific knowledge of what foods and flavors pairs with their beer. A celebration will be thrown at the end of each month culminating the brewery dedication.
The restaurant, which is a completely separate entity from Tapastre with its own entrance, will have a rustic and industrial vibe, similar to an upscale gastropub, featuring exposed brick, reclaimed wood tabletops and Weyerbacher beer barrels as trim, many features that Proske built himself within the six to eight months that it took to complete the new project.
Project P.U.B. will be holding their grand opening on Jan. 3.
Although the restaurant will still attract the craft beer crowd, Proske said that he doesn’t think that Project P.U.B., which can host about 80 people, will poach from Tapastre’s clientele.
Greenawalt said that he sees the restaurant being a big hit for Somerville’s growing commuter population – a younger, urban crowd – who are used to these types of restaurants in New York City.
Depending on the success of the restaurant, Proske said that he may open a brewery or find a new space to open one.
“There’s a bit of a vacuum in Somerville when it comes to getting a beer,” he said. “I am turning away people every night, especially on weekends, so I feel like there’s not much around here in terms of beer restaurants or brew pubs.”
Where: 1 West High Street, Somerville (above Tapastre)
Cost: Appetizers ranging from $5 to $19 and entrees ranging from $12 to $25