DISHcover Lehigh Valley – Yianni’s Taverna Bethlehem
Video released on: December 2, 2014
Kim Lilly: Hi, I’m Kim, Executive Vice President at Discover Lehigh Valley. I’m a graduate of the CIA. No, not that CIA, the Culinary Institute of America. I’ve got the perfect recipe to uncover the best dining and dishes in Lehigh Valley. Let’s go.
Welcome to the Mediterranean. I’m joined by Melissa and Maria. Welcome, guys. Thanks for having us today.
Maria: Thank you.
Maria: Our pleasure.
Kim Lilly: I love the atmosphere in the dining room here.
Maria: Thank you. We wanted to bring back the feel of a good taverna, which is a very casual Greek restaurant.
Kim Lilly: Tell me how you got into the restaurant business.
Maria: Well, I was born into it and..
Melissa: I married into it. Yeah.
Kim Lilly: That’s one way to get into it.
Maria: Our family has been in the restaurant business for many years and our philosophy has always been a feeling of [foreign language]. And what that means is, you enter as a stranger and you leave as a friend.
Kim Lilly: How long has the restaurant been around?
Maria: We’ve been here as Yianni’s since 2009. Our family has had it for over 40 years.
Kim Lilly: Okay. It started as Gus’s?
Maria: It started as Gus’s. When we decided to go with our Greek concept, we decided on the name change and we went back to our family’s heritage and came up with the name Yianni.
Kim Lilly: If someone’s not familiar with the Greek concept, what would they find here?
Maria: Primarily, the Greek food is very fresh ingredients, fresh fish, fresh meats and they’re grilled and just simply prepared, light, bright flavors, adaptable to many different palates.
Kim Lilly: Mediterranean cuisine is really probably one of the best and healthiest for people.
Maria: It’s just very simple, basic ingredients. Just prepare it fresh.
Kim Lilly: There’s a lot of olives and cheeses.
Maria: Mm-hmm. Lemons, fresh herbs.
Kim Lilly: Olive oil, I know it’s a key ingredient. Can you tell me what’s the best kind?
Maria: We got our olive oil from Kalamata.
Kim Lilly: Okay.
Maria: Which is the [inaudible 00:02:09] region of Greece and it’s actually famous worldwide.
Kim Lilly: The darker, the better.
Maria: The darker, the better.
Kim Lilly: That’s what I heard. Is it true that there is such a thing as flaming cheese? Can you tell us a little bit about that?
Maria: [inaudible 00:02:25] is what we call it. It’s a [inaudible 00:02:27] cheese, and what we do is we pan fry it and we serve it on a sizzling plate. We light it on fire with some Greek brandy, flambé table side.
Kim Lilly: Sounds good. So if one is vegan, will they find something on the menu that they might like here or a vegetarian?
Maria: Many options for them.
Maria: The Greek diet in general just is very adaptable to vegan or vegetarian.
Melissa: We prepare everything fresh. So if there’s something you like, don’t like, we can change just about everything.
Kim Lilly: What kind of drinks are served with this kind of food?
Maria: Greek wines are very popular. We’re actually very proud of our wine list.
Melissa: And we also have Maria’s favorite, [inaudible 00:03:11]. That’s a particular wine that’s only found in Greece, that type of grape. It’s a crisp wine that goes great with all of our fresh fish.
Maria: Kim, Melissa and I would like for you to try something new, mastiha. It’s sap of the mastiha tree and we take that sap and we make different things with it, cookies and bread.
Kim Lilly: That sounds good.
Maria: And this version of it, of course, is a liquor.
Melissa: What do you think?
Maria: What do you think?
Kim Lilly: Mm. It’s very smooth. Yeah. It has like a little bit of a lemony flavor to it. Be very good in cookies.
Kim Lilly: I hear you guys have a great happy hour here.
Melissa: We do, thanks. We have a signature martini every night, too.
Kim Lilly: Can we try one of those signature martinis?
Kim Lilly: Thanks for joining me on this episode of Discover Lehigh Valley. I know I’m ready for a trip to Greece but for now, I’m going to sit back and have a cup of cocktails with my new friends here.
Maria: How about we review some of the Greek words you learn today?
Kim Lilly: I’m going to try to do my best and pronounce them correctly.
Maria: The word is [foreign word].
Kim Lilly: Yeah, no.