Yianni’s Taverna

Yianni’s Taverna

We all know Yianni’s Taverna. It sits at the intersection of Seidersville Road and Old Philadelphia Pike in Bethlehem. We pass it all the time on our way to the Promenade Shops,  Stabler Arena and DeSales University or if you’re on your way from Macungie, to Downtown Bethlehem.

Yianni’s Taverna has been around for awhile. Tom and I dine there from time-to-time because we love Greek food but it never fails, as we are leaving, we always say to ourselves, “Why don’t we come here more often!”

The ambiance at Yianni’s is very pleasant. The decor is welcoming, from the deep white leather couches in the intimate lounge just perfect for a cozy date, to the open dining room boasting bright blues and whites, gleaming wood floors, flowing lacy curtains hanging from the ceilings, lively Greek music and a photo stream of Mediterranean ports of call. Add some well-spaced tables, warm candlelight, friendly waiters serving flaming Saganaki and “OPA,” you are really in for a good time.


Yianni’s is housed in a historic building that dates back to 1871. Gus and Eleni opened Gus’s Crossroads here in 1975 with the entire family pitching in to make Gus’s a family-owned  success. Today, this same family has brought a true Greek Taverna to our area serving authentic  fare in a fresh, modern setting.

We visited on a Friday evening and it was comfortably filled. Vasso welcomed us at the door and our waiter Tony was quick to our table to greet us. In addition to their extensive menu, there were a few specials to talk about such a Cream of Mushroom Soup and a small Seafood Combination for appetizers. There was a huge 21-ounce Lobster Tail with a creamy crabmeat stuffing as well as a herb-encrusted Rack of Lamb with a carrot, spinach and barley medley as entree specials. Diners at surrounding tables ordered the lobster – it looked amazing.


Tom and I have our favorites at Yianni’s. We both ordered the Saganaki. It’s a house specialty – pan-fried Kaseri cheese flambed tableside with a touch of lemon. Tom followed up his cheese with Grilled Octopus in Greek wine vinegar and oregano. I do not eat octopus as a rule but I tasted his and it was delicious.

Other appetizers include Steamed Clams in Retsina, onions and garlic; Dolmades (grape leaves) stuffed with rice and herbs with Greek Yogurt; Spanakopita – spinach, dill and feta baked in phyllo dough and fried zucchini and eggplant Taverna Chips served with Skordalia (a thick garlicky puree) just to name a few. A sampling of Yianni’s Mezedakia, homemade eggplant, fish roe, cucumber or split pea spreads, served with grilled pita is a perfect appetizer for sharing. I love and always order a Yianni’s Greek Salad. It is consistently very chilled and fresh with romaine, tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, feta and kalamata olives.

We sipped a 2008 Harlaftis Cabernet on Tony’s recommendation which was perfect with delicious, freshly baked rolls plus extra virgin olive oil and herbs dipper. Restaurant general manager Maurizio (formerly of NYC’s Cipriani on 53rd Street) stopped by to chat about Brunch. Served each Sunday from 11-2, Yianni’s features live music to accompany the wonderful menu consisting of Lamb or Spinach Eggs Benedict in addition to the traditional; Greek Breakfast – two eggs fried in EVOO, kaseri cheese and Greek Toast; Mediterranean Frittata or Egg and Shrimp Zorba and much, much more. In addition, there’s an option for unlimited Bloody Marys, Mimosas and Bellinis. Sounds great.


Our entrees arrived at the table. One of my favorites at Yianni’s Taverna is the Swai Sti Ladokola – a flaky white fish baked in parchment together with rosemary, tomatoes, zucchini and carrots. The aroma of this dish when the parchment is opened is incredible and the taste is divine. A side of rosemary orzo salad accompanies the fish and it is perfect. Tom ordered the spit-roasted Leg of Lamb with sides of lemon potatoes and fasolakia (fresh green beans braised in onion, tomato and garlic.) It was deliciously prepared and portion size very generous.

The aroma of this dish when the parchment is opened is incredible and the taste is divine.

Other entrees include whole fish – a choice of European Sea Bass, Red Snapper or Dorado, grilled over natural wood charcoal and finished with olive oil and lemon and served with lemon potatoes and steam wild greens. And, your server will be happy to filet your fish tableside if you wish. There are many other seafood selections as well as interesting preparations of Quail, Chops, Steaks, Braised Lamb Shank, Moussaka, and other Greek Specialties. For a lighter choice, order something from their raw bar and sandwich menus or try Yianni’s Gyros or Souvlaki each served with all the accompaniments.


Chef Francesco Ramirez is self-taught and has created a diverse, mouth-watering menu. Formerly of Blue and Gregory’s Steak House, he has been at Yianni’s Taverna for
over three years.

The staff at Yianni’s is delightful. Everyone is very welcoming and service is professionally friendly. In particular, I noticed a server at another table giving a tutorial to a couple who was visiting for the first time. He thoroughly explained different sauces and preparations which, I am sure, was very helpful to them as it was to those listening in.


So, needless to say, Tom absolutely could not pass up the Baklava – layer upon layer of phyllo stuffed with chopped walnuts and simple syrup. Tom swears it’s the best Baklava he’s ever had and I agree that it was amazing. However, my choice was a dessert-lovers dream – Galaktoboureko, semolina custard wrapped in phyllo drizzled with candied orange sauce. This dessert knocked my socks off. It was not at all sweet and very delightful.


We had a truly wonderful evening. Yianni’s Taverna is conveniently located at 3760 Old Philadelphia Pike, Bethlehem and offers plenty of on-site parking. It is open every day for lunch and dinner. Call 610.867.8821 or visit yiannistaverna.com. There you will find hours of operation as well as full menu, entertainment and other information. And while you are at it, make a reservation!

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