Charlie’s Little Italian bucatini Romesco with Haida Gwaii halibut

Image for Charlie’s Little Italian bucatini Romesco with Haida Gwaii halibut

Located on Vancouver's Main Street, Charlie’s Little Italian (named after Charlie Croker, a character in The Italian Job) dishes up rustic Italian cuisine in a contemporary atmosphere.

Romesco is usually thickened with bread crumbs or day old bread, but Charlie's Little Italian opts for cooked chickpeas to give the sauce a thick and smooth texture. It's traditionally paired with seafood but Dave Thielmann, head chef at Charlie's, recommends it as a way to spice up almost any dish, or even as a spread for sandwiches.

Romesco sauce

3 red peppers
1 roma tomato
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 cup cooked or canned chickpeas
1/4 cup slivered blanched almonds, toasted until golden
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp kosher salt or sea salt
1 tsp smoked paprika, or more for a spicier sauce
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Preheat ovento 450 F.

Roast peppers and tomato for about 20 minutes, turning the peppers and tomato 2 or 3 times to get colour on all sides.

Remove peppers and tomatoes from oven and place in a sealed container or a bowl and cover with plastic wrap to help steam the peppers and loosen the skin. Let sit 10 minutes, then let cool for another 10 minutes before peeling, removing all seeds and stems.  

In a blender, add all ingredients except for the olive oil and blend until very smooth. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil to emulsify the sauce and achieve the brilliant orange colour.

Taste and adjust seasoning to your liking.


Pea puree

1 cup frozen peas
1 cup packed spinach leaves
1 clove garlic
4 mint leaves
1 lemon, zest only
1 tbsp chili flakes
2 tsp salt

In a medium saucepan over high heat, boil the peas, garlic, mint and spinach with 1 cup of water for 2 mins. Strain out the cooking liquid and cool down with an ice bath. Reserve 1 cup of the liquid. Blend cooked peas, garlic, mint, spinach, lemon zest, chili flake and salt with reserved liquid in a blender until smooth. 


500 g dry pasta, cooked as per instructions on the package
4 5-oz. pieces halibut filet, pat dry, and seasons with salt

Preheat oven to 450 F.

Add a touch of olive oil to a non-stick pan over high heat, and sear halibut filet until golden. Transfer pan to oven and bake for 5 to 7 minutes until fish is fully cooked through.

To serve, dress pasta with Romesco sauce in a large bowl. Spread the pea puree on each serving plate or shallow bowl, place the pasta on top and finish with a piece of halibut. 

Garnish with fresh basil, edible flowers or micro greens for that extra touch!


4 servings