It's a sports bar. It's a very large sports bar with an avalanche of flat screens (90 in all), a large crowd, a theme built around the local sports legend and Boston Red Sox player Tony Conigliaro and fare that is quite better than one would expect at the average sports bar haunt. The plasma may give the place a slightly Vegas feel but the crowd (and it IS packed) doesn't seem to mind at all. "You should see it on a game day," our waiter, Tim, says. And, from the looks of it all, I am sure that it would be quite the event.
On a very chilly recent night we made the trek to Assembly Row for dinner at Tony C's Sports Bar and Grill for dinner. It was so packed that there was a wait for seats on a Friday night but, reservations in hand, we were shown to a table near the center of the large room just to the side of the long bar with that tidal wave of electronics looming above us.
The cocktail I chose to begin the evening with was The Im"Pear"sible Dream, a moniker only Red Sox fans of a certain age would fully comprehend. With Absolut Pear, St. Germain, Lemon, Thyme and Sparkling Wine, it was a light, refreshing sip, not overly sweet and something I would order again.
The Philly Cheese Steak Wontons, crispy fried and served with Sriracha Aioli were the first tastes on plate and a hit. These were exactly as what you are imagining them to be right now; crab rangoon with a Philly Cheese Steak filling. Nicely shredded beef and creamy cheese wrapped in a crunchy, golden-fried wonton.
Next up was the New Orleans Shrimp. With a spicy Creole Sauce and a nice hunk of Grilled Sourdough, this was a mouthful of hearty flavor. The shrimp was good but that chunk of bread, seemingly griddled in butter and soaking up that sauce, was the best part, satisfying in a way that only delicious carbs can be.
The Clown Shoes Tramp Stamp IPA was calling me. How could one resist just such a name? I have found the Clown Shoes craft beers to be not only playful but also rewarding beyond the fun names. This Belgian IPA had a lot going on for flavor: citrus, a subtle taste of clove, malty and interesting, slightly bitter at the end. I just loved this beer and look forward to trying more of their others.
We were now into the flavorful 6th inning. I opted for the special of the night: Pork Loin with Garlic Mash. Crusted with fresh peppercorn for a nice, spicy bite, yet not overwhelming, the meat was tender and moist but seemed to us to be far more of a pork chop than a softer, richer loin. Still good but not the hit we envisioned.
The Orecciette with Italian Sausage, broccoli, spinach, garlic and Parmesan cheese was, however, a certified home run. Red pepper flakes added some heat but the sausage was meaty and mild, the pasta perfectly al dente and the overall taste excellent. The highlight of the night.
Dessert was this beautiful Creme Brulee. Packed with a rich vanilla flavor, smooth and creamy. The top could have used a bit more torch, not offering quite the crunch as the perfect brulee might yet, again, still good.
Overall, we were impressed. It's definitely not a quiet, intimate dinner but a very fun, casual place, a must-see for sports fans, good food, a great drinks program and, with acres of free parking, a nice choice when one doesn't feel like driving into the city.
Tony C's Sports Bar and Grill
699 Assembly Row
Somerville, MA 02145