Main Street Eats: Charlie's Little Italia

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Charlie’s Little Italian is located at the old location of Habit, and is still owned by Cascade Company group of restaurants. It’s more casual than Habit and has a strong neighbourhood feel and features antipasti, pastas and a few meatier main courses. There are also plenty of daily specials to widen the variety for more regular diners.

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Things started off with a few servings of Fried Bread, on the house. The bread has some parmesan, chillies and herbs sprinkled on top but the flavour is really mild. I thought the bread was just a touch oily, but the chewy texture is fantastic, something similar to a naan.

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Our first starter was the Saltspring Island Steamed Mussels. The broth is tomato-based with some roasted red peppers and a hint of chilli. The mussels were meaty and had a sweet ocean flavour. And I liked that there was lots of foccacia to soak up the extra sauce.

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They had a special antipasti tonight, and it was their Burrata. Super creamy and drizzled with some olive oil, this dish was quite decadent and perfect for sharing. I liked the bitter greens that they paired this with as it helps to tone down the richness of the burrata. The crunchy bread makes a lovely plate for this appetizer.

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I really wanted to try a pasta, but also want to try a main as well. The staff at Charlie’s agreed to split a full serving of Linguine Carbonara into two appetizer-sized servings. The free-range egg gave the dish a burst of creaminess and the smokey guanciale gave it the saltiness. This is a very rich dish and even for a main course, this would be very filling. Do yourself a favour and split this with a friend to avoid a food coma.

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We also tried their Cannelloni Al Forno, another rich dish with ricotta, spinach & mushrooms with a tomato cream sauce. I always find stuffed pastas to be a bit overcooked, but if you are a fan of stuffed pastas, you have to try this dish.

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Onto the mains! First to arrive is the Game Hen, which, sadly, has fallen off from their regular menu. I hope it resurfaces as a daily special though. The portion is quite big, with a breast as well as a leg. I was hoping that the skin would be crispy, but, alas, it wasn’t, although there was still plenty of flavour. The potato gnocchi had a nice sear and a well-developed crust. The veggies on the place beneath the hen are kale and roasted red peppers.

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One item that was on special the night we went has made it onto the regular menu, the Pork Chop. The side is a Roman Gnocchi, which our waitress explained that it’s a variation from a regular gnocchi since there is a touch of ricotta. The texture was really creamy, almost polenta-like. The pork chop was a bit too fatty (see right hand side of plate). Take off the fat and you’re left with a really juicy piece of meat. The sauce had strong hints of mushroom, I just wish there was more of it to flavour up the gnocchi.

They have weekend brunches, as well as daily drink specials. For those who are looking for gluten-free options, they are available here. And there is also a kid’s menu, as well.

Charlie’s Little Italia
Address: 2610 Main Street, Vancouver, BC

Telephone
(604) 877-8582

Hours
Open seven days a week
Monday To Thursday: 5 p.m.-11 p.m.
Friday: 5 p.m.-12 a.m.
Saturday: 10 a.m.-12 a.m.
Sunday: 10 a.m.-10 p.m.
Weekend Brunch: 10 a.m.-3 p.m.

Website: Charlie’s Little Italia

Twitter: @CharliesVan

 

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Grace Cheung Grace has always had a fork in one hand, and a pen in the other as she eats her way through Vancouver’s restaurant scene with a discerning bite. She spends her day scouring the best eateries and racking up frequent dining points. In between meals, she works as a marketer for a non-profit and also has her own company, providing social media services to local businesses. Must haves: blackberry, iPad, and a nice barolo.
@gracecheung604

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