It’s been 50 years since a teenage Tony Conigliaro made his auspicious debut for his hometown Red Sox. But after a few years as a prodigious power hitter, he was struck in the eye with a baseball that forever altered his career and his life, which ended in 1990. Conigliaro’s tragic story is remembered by almost everyone who lived in the region in 1967, but his family doesn’t want him to be forgotten as generations pass. And so—in addition to continuing their efforts to have his number retired at Fenway Park—they’re lending his name to the Cronin Group’s newest restaurant, Tony C’s Bar & Grill, which is expected to open in Somerville’s Assembly Row in late December.
Conigliaro’s number, 25, will be lit up in a massive light fixture, his niece will be working as a bartender, and his memorabilia will appear throughout the restaurant. But sports fans will also have plenty of TVs to look at, with nearly 100 in total. Above the 50-seat bar will be a Jumbotron with approximately 50 55-inch flat-screens that can be configured in any number of combinations, much like the big-screen matrix used at Jerry Remy’s Seaport, another restaurant from the Cronin Group. But with indoor seating for 386, as well as outdoor seating in warmer months, the Tony C’s team hopes to use its location in the bustling Assembly Row to attract more than just sports enthusiasts.
“With Legoland right there, we’re welcoming families. And we have a great kids’ menu. The movie theater will give guests the opportunity to have date night, a wonderful bottle of wine with an entree before watching a movie. And with big retail stores in Assembly Row, people can grab a bite and a glass of wine when shopping,” says general manager Bonnie Fleischer.
One of the main draws will be the scratch kitchen focused on American comfort food under the direction of Giovani Suarez (Grill 23). Two of the signature dishes are named after Conigliaro: the No. 25 burger, topped with crispy pork belly, a fried egg, cheese and barbecue sauce, and the Chicken Conigliaro, pan-seared chicken with angel hair pasta, topped with lemon white wine sauce and capers. The bar will offer 40 beers on draft, 40 different wines, 10 signature cocktails and a full liquor program.
The other draw is the view of the Mystic River. (Think about reading that sentence even five years ago!) The outdoor seating wraps around the entire building, and glass walls with sliding windows and doors will allow customers to get a glimpse of the water from the inside as well.
“We definitely think it can draw all different types of people,” Fleischer says. “Not just sports fans.”
Tony C’s 699 Assembly Row, Somerville (617-996-1520)