Perched in the Southwest hills, Alba is quietly turning out some of Portland's best and most adventurous Italian food. Carne cruda (raw chopped beef), lengua (cow tongue) and sweetbreads (veal thymus glands) all make appearances on the menu, largely to good effect. But try starting with something slightly more domestic, like Alba's whole roasted onion stuffed with chanterelles and Gorgonzola. You can eat a whole onion, I promise. For more hearty comfort try the brasato al nebbilolo, a sort of Italian beef stew of tender meat braised in red wine and ladled over mashed potatoes. The duck breast, laced with amber fig sauce and nestled on creamy polenta, is another stellar choice, especially when you wash it down with a bottle from Alba's all-Italian wine list. If the varietals don't look familiar, or just unpronounceable, don't worry—the servers are very knowledgeable.

IDEAL MEAL: Roasted onion, duck breast with fig sauce and polenta, raspberry crème brûlée.