At long last, a popular North End restaurant that closed down more than a year ago has found a new home and will make its return early next year. Carmen Trattoria closed down in July of 2016, at the time located at 33 North Sq. in Boston’s North End, but the restaurant assured guests it would eventually relocate. (See April 2018 update below; this is no longer happening as planned.)
Now, the time has almost come: Carmen will occupy a storefront at Somerville’s Assembly Row (521 Assembly Row), arriving early in March 2018 and reviving its menu of Italian dishes, just north of the city it called home for 16 years. The restaurant will be situated between David’s Tea and Chico’s.
Fans of the old Carmen in Boston can expect to see some familiar favorites from the previous menu, but they’ll have a lot more room to enjoy their meals: While the North End Carmen sat 36, the new restaurant will accommodate nearly 120 across a dining space and a bar, according to Jeff Malloy, the restaurant’s executive chef and director of operations.
When Carmen closed in the North End, Malloy scouted for other locations around the city and found appeal at Assembly Row, along with convenience for both city-dwellers and out-of-towners. He said he “wanted something new and fresh,” where he could gain seats and continue to grow the restaurant in a budding neighborhood that has a mixture of residences, corporate spaces, and attractions.
“I started out as a neighborhood restaurant, and that’s what I’m trying to do here,” he said.
The restaurant at Assembly Row will bear the name Carmen’s Trattoria & Italian Pub, and guests will notice the expanded name reflected in the menu. In addition to classics from the North End Carmen (think mustard and fennel clams and house-made pasta sauces), the menu will also have some Italian-style pub fare, including chicken wings with a balsamic glaze, flatbreads, and spinach dip with crusty bread.
With the potential to reach a larger demographic, Malloy said, he’s “trying to stay classic and true to [his] roots of how great Carmen was.”
Some of Carmen’s previous staff will rejoin Malloy at the new location, and he’s looking for a head chef to oversee his vision and incorporate his or her own as well.
Carmen will offer brunch on Sundays and will be open for lunch and dinner seven days a week, with a full liquor license (there will be cocktails and plenty of Italian wines.) The restaurant will also take reservations.
Update, 4/25/18: This project is no longer moving forward as planned. Per a rep for Federal Realty, which is behind Assembly Row, the ownership team behind Carmen’s will instead take a larger space at the development and open a different restaurant there. More details — such as a name, menu information, and opening timeline — to come.