A new Italian restaurant is open at Somerville’s Assembly Row, and it’s good news for fans of the now-defunct Carmen in the North End. La Cucina Italian Eatery now serves dinner daily at 400 Assembly Rw., bringing a homey dining experience to the Somerville retail and residential complex.
At La Cucina, Jeff Malloy — who ran the popular North End restaurant Carmen until its closure in 2016 — plans to deliver an experience that pays homage to the neighborhood’s history in automotive manufacturing, as well as his own history in Italian dining. (Malloy previously planned to open a more direct rebirth of Carmen at Assembly Row, but La Cucina moved forward instead of that project.)
The interior of the restaurant reflects some of the neighborhood’s automotive past, according to Malloy.
“I had an artist come in and do the vintage Ford logo up on the wall, and we’ve brought in some old pictures of the Ford Edsel,” he said, referring to the model that was briefly manufactured in Somerville.
The restaurant has high ceilings, a 30-seat bar with a fireplace close by, a prominently displayed pizza oven, and a semi-open kitchen. It has both street access and an entrance through the Row Hotel.
In addition to the bar and lounge, La Cucina has regular dining space and a private dining area. It’s currently open for dinner only, but it will add lunch in about two weeks, with brunch following in another month.
Dishes available now include braised boar, linguine with clams, rigatoni bolognese, and grilled hanger steak, as well as an olive oil cake and a ricotta torte for dessert. When the restaurant expands its hours, lunch fare will feature dishes such as a pork shoulder sandwich with caramelized fennel and a Pugliese flatbread with tomatoes, onions, rabe, ricotta, and Reggiano.
La Cucina’s bar menu will feature what Malloy calls artisanal flatbreads, including a fennel sausage version, plus salads and other dishes. On the beverage side, the wine list spans more than 150 options by the bottle and glass, while a cocktail menu consists of Italian and American beverages named for Ford car models. The restaurant also serves coffee from Italian company Lavazza.
La Cucina is open seven days a week from 5 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. When it adds lunch, the restaurant will also be open from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.