Thursday, June 13, 2024

The wild mushroom omelet at the Civility Social House at Somerville’s Assembly Square. (Photo: Tom Meek)

Assembly Row, that suburban-styled village mall in an urban setting where you can shop, play pickleball and find a good joint for some hearty, rib-sticking eats, is convenient, even if the sterile uniformity can be a bit off putting. We’ve detailed some of its eateries in the past – Yakitori Totto and Salt + Stone, to name two.

I might sum up what’s available at Assembly Row as “fine comfort,” and of the 30-some eateries there probably none fit the label better than the Civility Social House, the creation of owner-chef Chris Damian and the Legendary Restaurant Group, also of the Sip Wine Bar and Kitchen in Boston’s Downtown Crossing and the Papagayo Mexican restaurants and tequila bars. Talk about comfort food: A signature dish at Civility is the Mac and Cheese Donut, essentially a fried doughnut of pasta that gets a tableside dousing of housemade chipotle cheese sauce spiked with bacon bits and scallions. It’s a cholesterol spiking must-try.

There are plenty of other playful eats on the menu as well, including Screaming Rooster Shrimp (tempura-fried and dressed with Sriracha), a seared tuna and tempura shrimp rice bowl, and grilled flatbreads. I’ve been more drawn to Civility’s brunch fare, which features crème brûlée French toast, fried chicken and waffles and a breakfast burger. I really appreciate the simplicity of its wild mushroom omelet for texture and taste – you can make out the different varieties of morels within the airy and perfectly moist egg, and it comes with just the right amount of fontina and truffle accent to bring it all together. It’s one of the better breakfast omelets I’ve had in the recent past and comes with pan-roasted new potatoes that are crispy and spiced on the outside, fluffy and light on the inside.

The Civility Social House breakfast flatbread. (Photo: Tom Meek)

I’ve indulged also in the breakfast flatbread. Civility brags about its perfectly thin crusts – and they are worthy of the boast – and this one is crowned with provolone fondue (not just provolone, but provolone fondue!), housemade breakfast sausage and a few perfectly done sunny-side-up eggs. What’s not to like? Without the eggs it’s probably one of the most satiating and perfectly white pizzas around, along with Gran Gusto’s truffle and prosciutto O’Re.

The spare, open space – seemingly another requirement of an Assembly Row eatery – is adorned with Shepard Fairey-esque artwork featuring cultural icons Nina Simone, David Bowie, Muhammad Ali, Mickey Rourke and a giant wall mural of JFK. The staff’s friendly and always on it, and for happy hour there are $5 sliders that come in meatball, ahi tuna and fried chicken spins, among the many. Side note: The Papagayo that was at Assembly Row has closed and relaunched as Toca Chida Casa Sociale, an ostensibly more upscale Mexican eatery under the same management that begs for a future sample after that Mac and Cheese Donut. 

Civility Social House, 490 Foley St., Assembly Square, Somerville


Tom Meek is a writer living in Cambridge. His reviews, essays, short stories and articles have appeared in the WBUR ARTery, The Boston Phoenix, The Boston Globe, The Rumpus, The Charleston City Paper and SLAB literary journal. Tom is also a member of the Boston Society of Film Critics and rides his bike everywhere.