Charlie's Little Italian serves big flavour

2610 Main Street, Vancouver
Tel: 604 877 8582 
 
Take note:
• Service is good although some staff aren't as knowledgeable about the menu as you would hope.
• Dinner nightly and Brunch on weekends. 
• Menu is limited but a good start for now.
 
By Grace Cheung,
Special to The Post 
 
After Habit closed, the Cascade Company resurrected the place as Charlie's Little Italian.
It's a much more casual place than before, and serves up traditional Italian fare.
The menu has about 20 dishes, excluding sides. There are lots of antipasti, pastas, and a few meaty mains. They do have daily specials that helps to break up the monotony for regulars.
For starters, we tried a few of their Antipasti, the first to arrive was the Mussels Arrabiata. The tomato based broth has some roasted red peppers in it, as well as a light touch of chilli. The flavour is quite light, and allows the sweet ocean flavour of the mussels to come through. The mussels were quite meaty and the foccacia was perfect for mopping up the extra sauce.
A special of the night was their Burrata. It looked super unctuous and creamy, and the pairing with the slightly bitter greens really helps to cut the richness of the cheese.
The folks at Charlie's were nice enough to split their full serving of Linguine Carbonara into two appetizer-sized servings. There was a creaminess from the free-range egg and the guanciale gave the entire dish a smokey salty flavour.
The pasta was cooked to a perfect al dente, but man, it's rich. I'd recommend splitting this with a friend as an appetizer because a full plate of this would easily put you into a total food coma.
Of the seven pastas Charlie's serves, two are actually made in house, including the Lasagna.
The layers are filled with three types of meat; pork, beef and sausage as well as some mushroom. The cheese layer has ricotta as well as hints of spinach. It's rather traditional but I loved the multitude of layers. When I make this at home, I am lazy and only do three layers, meat, then cheese and then more meat.
I was surprised by the presentation, I had expected it to be served in their own baking dish. The oil on the plate also threw me off.
The other pasta that is made "in-house" is their Cannelloni. It's a rich dish loaded with everything you get in the lasagna, minus the three meats. The sauce is a pomodoro and is lighter that the lasagna sauce. I'm not a fan of stuffed pastas, but the consensus was that this was actually pretty good.
 
Grace Cheung is a leading food blogger on Urban Spoon.  Read more of her reviews at www.xmasbb.blogspot.ca.
 

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