SEAFOOD

The Fishwife

5328 N Lombard St,
503-285-7150
Tue-Thu 11AM-9PM, Fri 11AM-10PM, Sat 4-10PM
thefishwife.com

The Fishwife should come with one of those blaring, caffeine-addled radio voice-overs: Prices so low, you’ll think we’re craazzzzyyyy. Because when comparing the high quality of the food inside this working-class joint with the minuscule size of your bill, that’s exactly the thought that will cross your mind: Are the owners of this North Portland seafood haven nuts? Flaky slabs of Alaskan cod with salad and a side for $11.25? Humongous bowls of New England-style clam chowder for under $5? Don’t avert your eyes from the pricier portions of the menu, either. Not when you and your cohort can share something like mussels stewed in apples, bacon, brandy, and cream ($13.50), or a cioppino ($14.50) piled high with cod, snapper, prawns, scallops, and bay shrimp, and still keep tight to the magical $25 ceiling. Usually, seafood is either cheap and greasy or pricey and precious. The Fishwife is neither. Get there before the owners wise up. —B. Blasengame

ITALIAN

Piazza Italia

 

eats piazza italia

Spaghetti al pomodoro at PIAZZA ITALIA

1129 NW Johnson St,
503-478-0619
Mon-Sun 11:30AM-3PM, Mon-Fri 5-10PM, Sat 5-11PM, Sun 5-9PM
piazzaportland.com

At this authentic Italian eatery, just west of Jamison Square in the Pearl District, a soft glow radiates from the windows. Tables are filled with patrons clinking glasses. An elderly gentleman dances, kissing his matronly partner’s rosy cheeks as a ballad from the Old Country twinkles from the speakers. “Grazie, grazie,” the host says to a couple waving their goodbyes. While you’re poring over the menu, you realize just how remarkable this restaurant is—most dishes hover right around $12. Your date, practically swooning, says, “This reminds me of traveling in Italy.” You may order any number of salads—from the Gino’s Salad ($10.25), filled with gorgonzola, apples, and mixed nuts, to the Antipasto Italiano ($10.25), but the pasta is really where it’s at. Dishes like the linguine squarciarella ($12.50)—a steaming mountain of rough-cut prosciutto and egg noodles—or a classic pasta alla Bolognese ($12.50) are proportioned for sharing. After your noodles, it’s tempting to linger over an espresso, but you may opt instead for a walk in the square, which, in your sated state, you may believe is a romantic piazza. —Brian Barker

KOREAN

Toji Korean Grill House

4615 SE Hawthorne Blvd,
503-232-8998
Tue-Thu 11:30AM-10PM, Fri 11:30AM-11PM, Sat Noon-11PM, Sun 5-10PM

Don’t be fooled by the price of the bulgogi and galbi. Although the Korean barbecue runs between $13.95 and $24.95 at this clean-and-shiny Hawthorne joint—a favorite among visiting Korean businessmen—it easily feeds two people, if not more. Plus, you get to cook all that sweet-and-salty meat on an individual grill set into the table, and your meal comes with at least six different bowls of kimchi. If your appetites are larger, you can always supplement the meat-fest with house-made pork dumplings ($4.95) or pan-fried tofu ($4.95). Or opt for the bi bim bob ($9.95), a bowl of steamed rice topped with spiced slices of beef, zucchini, daikon, bean sprouts, shaved carrots, an egg, and a pungent pepper sauce; or any number of soups, such as the spicy soon tofu ($8.95), studded with baby shrimp and calamari. Between the flavor and the portions of these dishes, the pleasure-to-price ratio is just right. —CD