DINER: Charlie’s Little Italian Opens Up In The Old Habit Lounge Location On Main St.

May 8, 2013.

by Andrew Morrison | Charlie’s Little Italian has just opened up at 2610 Main Street in the old Habit Lounge spot. It’s the same owners/designers as before (Nicolay + Edmonds + Pike + Devine = Cascade, Union Bar, El Camino’s), so it is clean, tightly wrought, and pretty well representative of the direction that the Mt Pleasant neighbourhood has gone in the last decade. The drinks from Nick Devine are typically flawless (dig the house sodas and his “Gianfranco Zola” cocktail), and the menu is pretty approachably priced. Regarding the re-design, I think it was smart of them to move the bar up front and center and to turn the rear area into a cozy series of nests. It looks right and feels better than Habit’s two previous incarnations (pre-fire and post-fire). The service – befitting a room that was just a few days old – was air tight and enthusiastic.

The food appears to purposely beat a retreat away from the Italian authenticity that has been trending up in Vancouver for the past few years (eg. regional specificity, Neapolitan stamps of approval, etc), and bewilderingly back to the mangicake styles of old. At least I found this to be the case with the pastas. To wit, there was nowhere near enough black pepper, pork fat, and Pecorino in the carbonara, the tomatoes were woefully weak in the bland pomodoro, and the bolognese was red and dry instead of brown and wet. Of course, that’s exactly what Vancouverites had gotten used to during the 20th century, but in the 21st each pasta can now be had in all their authentic glory at places like Campagnolo, Campagnolo Roma, La Buca, La Pentola, La Quercia, and Cioppino’s (among others). The proper ones just taste better, and making them isn’t rocket science, so I’m at a loss as to why Charlie’s went in for such middling versions, that is unless they are indeed aiming for mangiacake as an exercise in irony, as if it were some sort of comfort food retro Anglo-Canadian thing, an expressed yearning for the proto-typical Cipriano’s of yore, the kind of place where Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra were on a CD shuffle with Louis Prima and Rosemary Clooney (the red and white table cloth motif adorning the wall is a dead giveaway). If so, then Charlie’s is absolutely on the right track.

And I kind of get it, too. Personally, the usually well repressed food snob side of me was a little glad to see Vancouver move away from these sorts of treatments of Italian food, so I was more confused than disappointed. For others, it might be like slipping on a pair of comfortable shoes. What’s more, the bread was certainly delicious and the burrata was…well…burrata (the cheese of God), and there’s a lot more to the menu than the few bowls that had me blinking like a pup. And who knows? Maybe the pastas were total misfires by a kitchen guy on his first day (the place is less than a week old). But even if it is as Italian as a £5 note, that’s the way the cuisine was always done in this city. And today, with so much of it replaced by the real deal, there’s probably a lot of room for the “Mambo Italiano” milieu to be revisited. I mean, it’s not like it was never fun, right? My advice: have a couple of drinks and don’t think so much. Salute!

Charlie’s Little Italian is open for dinner 7 days a week from 4pm. | www.charlieslittleitalian.com

ALL ANTICIPATED OPENINGS

—————————————————————————————–

Andrew Morrison is the editor-in-chief of Scout and BC’s Senior Judge at the Canadian Culinary Championships. He contributes regularly to a wide range of publications, radio programs, and TV shows on local food, culture and travel. He live and works in the vibrant Strathcona neighbourhood, where he also collects inexpensive things and enjoys birds, skateboards, whisky, shoes, many songs, and the smell of wood fires.

#ScoutThis

There are 4 comments

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Diner Delicious restaurant intel...

DINER | Little ‘Lisa Lou’s Chocolate Bar’ Now Open, Making Main Street A Little Bit Sweeter

DINER | Little ‘Lisa Lou’s Chocolate Bar’ Now Open, Making Main Street A Little Bit Sweeter

by Andrew Morrison | A new 12 seat chocolate, ice cream, and espresso shop has just arrived at 1007 Main Street, just north of Terminal. The 1,000 sqft space… more 

DINER | 10 Local Chefs Set To Compete At The 2016 ‘Gold Medal Plates’ Cooking Competition

DINER | 10 Local Chefs Set To Compete At The 2016 ‘Gold Medal Plates’ Cooking Competition

by Andrew Morrison | The competing chefs for this year's Gold Medal Plates competition in Victoria are set. 11 cities from coast to coast host these challenges… more 

INTELLIGENCE BRIEFS | On Trump Suing His Chefs & The Star-Worthy Street Foods Of Asia

INTELLIGENCE BRIEFS | On Trump Suing His Chefs & The Star-Worthy Street Foods Of Asia

by Talia Kleinplatz | This week in things I don’t get: the nude dining experience. Why is this even a thing? Why can’t people nude-dine like everyone… more 

DINER | R&B Brewing Co.’s Cozy, Original 60 Seat ‘Ale & Pizza House’ Imminent On East 4th

DINER | R&B Brewing Co.’s Cozy, Original 60 Seat ‘Ale & Pizza House’ Imminent On East 4th

by Andrew Morrison | R&B Brewing Co.'s new food primary establishment is imminent on East 4th Avenue, awaiting its opening all clear from the powers that… more 

DINER | New ‘Tide-To-Table’ Fanny Bay Oyster Bar Primed For Launch At 762 Cambie Street

DINER | New ‘Tide-To-Table’ Fanny Bay Oyster Bar Primed For Launch At 762 Cambie Street

by Andrew Morrison | Following a friends-and-family service and a media function, Fanny Bay Oyster Bar is set to open its doors in the Stadium District… more 

SCOUT 25 POLL | Our Readers Rank The Best Restaurants In The City, Summer 2016 Edition

SCOUT 25 POLL | Our Readers Rank The Best Restaurants In The City, Summer 2016 Edition

The Summer 2016 Scout 25 has just been released. It’s what you should feel confident giving to anyone who asks “Where should I eat in Vancouver?”… more 

INTELLIGENCE BRIEFS | On Agave In Trouble And The Importance Of Neighbourhood Joints

INTELLIGENCE BRIEFS | On Agave In Trouble And The Importance Of Neighbourhood Joints

by Talia Kleinplatz | Bummed that you missed Italian Day on Commercial Drive? Fear not! The festivities continue all throughout June for Italian Heritage… more 

DINER | Kappo-Style ‘Kozakura’ Restaurant Imminent In Gastown’s Old Notturno Location

DINER | Kappo-Style ‘Kozakura’ Restaurant Imminent In Gastown’s Old Notturno Location

by Andrew Morrison | The first friends and family action went down last night (Thursday, June 16th) at Kozakura in Gastown. To further sort out whatever kinks… more 

The scout Community

49th Parallel Coffee Roasters & Lucky’s Doughnuts Acorn Alibi Room Ancora Waterfront Dining & Patio AnnaLena Araxi Ask For Luigi Au Comptoir Bao Bei Chinese Brasserie Bar Oso Bauhaus Beach Bay Café & Patio Beaucoup Bakery & Cafe Bel Café Bestie Bishop’s Bistro Pastis Bistro Wagon Rouge Bittered Sling Blue Water Cafe + Raw Bar Bottleneck Bufala Burdock & Co. Cadeaux Bakery Café Medina Caffè Artigiano Camp Lifestyle + Coffee Co. Campagnolo Campagnolo ROMA Cartems Donuterie Chambar Chefs’ Table Society of BC Chez Christophe Chocolaterie Patisserie  Chicha Chill Winston ChocolaTas Chocolate Arts Cibo Trattoria Cinara CinCin Ristorante + Bar Cioffi’s Cioppino’s Mediterranean Grill Cocktails & Canapes Catering + Events Culinary Capers Catering & Special Events Dirty Apron Cooking School & Delicatessen District Brasserie Earnest Ice Cream Edible Canada Elementa Espana Exile Bistro Fable Fanny Bay Farmer’s Apprentice Fat Badger Fat Mao Field & Social Forage Giovane Cafe + Eatery Gotham Steakhouse & Bar Grain Granville Island Grapes & Soda Greenhorn Espresso Bar Gyoza Bar Harkness & Co. Harvest Community Foods Hawksworth Restaurant Heirloom Homer Street Cafe & Bar Hy’s Steakhouse Irish Heather Jamjar JJ Bean Joy Road Catering Juice Truck Juniper Keefer Bar Kin Kao Knifewear Kuma Tofino L’Abattoir La Buca La Mezcaleria La Pentola La Quercia La Taqueria Pinche Taco Shop Latab Wine Bar Les Amis du Fromage Lions Pub, The Liquidity Bistro Little District Lobby Lounge + RawBar Lolita’s South Of The Border Cantina Longtail Kitchen Maenam Mamie Taylor’s MARKET by Jean-Georges Matchstick Coffee Roasters Meat & Bread Meinhardt Fine Foods Miku Restaurant Milano Coffee Minami Miradoro Mission Mogiana Coffee Mosquito Nicli Antica Pizzeria Nightingale Nomad Nook Notturno Nuba Oakwood Canadian Bistro OLO OPUS Bar Oru Osteria Savio Volpe Oyama Sausage Co. Pallet Coffee Roasters Pat’s Pub & BrewHouse Phoenix Perennials Pidgin Pied-à-Terre Pizzeria Farina Pointe Restaurant at the Wickaninnish Inn Pourhouse Railtown Cafe Railtown Catering Rain Or Shine Ice Cream Red Wagon, The Revolver Coffee Rocky Mountain Flatbread Co. Royal Dinette Sai Woo Salt Tasting Room Salty Tongue Café Savoury Chef Shaughnessy Restaurant Shebeen Whisk(e)y House Shelter Shika Provisions Siena Six Acres Sophie’s Cosmic Cafe Stable House, The Steel Toad Brewpub & Dining Hall Supermarine Tableau Bar Bistro Tacofino Tavola Terra Breads Thierry Thomas Haas Chocolates & Patisserie Timber Timbertrain Coffee Roasters Torafuku Tractor Foods Truffles Fine Foods Two Rivers Specialty Meats UBC Farm Uncommon Cafe, The Urban Digs Farm Uva Wine & Cocktail Bar Vancouver Aquarium’s Ocean Wise™ Program Via Tevere Pizzeria Napoletana West Restaurant Wildebeest Wolf In The Fog YEW seafood

Lorem Ipsum is simply dummy text of the printing and typesetting industry. Lorem Ipsum has been the industry's standard dummy text ever since the 1500s, when an unknown printer took a galley of type and scrambled it to make a type specimen book. It has survived not only five centuries, but also the leap into electronic typesetting, remaining essentially unchanged. It was .

Lorem Ipsum is simply dummy text of the printing and typesetting industry. Lorem Ipsum has been the industry's standard dummy text ever since the 1500s, when an unknown printer took a galley of type and scrambled it to make a type specimen book. It has survived not only five centuries, but also the leap into electronic typesetting, remaining essentially unchanged. It was .