Yannas’ Taverna: An authentic Greek dining experience

Stretching the Point

David and Julie Yacobi welcome customers to enjoy authentic Greek food. (photo by Melanie Occhiuzzo)

Yannas’ Taverna is the local Greek food connection near Oyster Point. Operated by David and Julie Yacobi since November 2016, this husband and wife duo have made this restaurant a top Greek food destination for Hampton Roads locals.

“We get many compliments from our Greek customers and people who’ve eaten in Greece,” says Julie. She attributes that to the authentic taste their kitchen delivers on a daily basis.

The Yacobis took over the restaurant from Yanni and Anna Tsivgoulis, who had previously owned and operated the restaurant since March 2013. The Yacobis and the Tsivgoulises had been family friends for more that 20 years.

“We have tried to stay true to the original menu,” says David. The restaurant serves authentic Greek food and prepares the majority of its food in-house. This includes the entrees and accompanying sauces. Whether one is craving a spanakopita appetizer, a Greek salad, whole fish, grilled chicken, a lamb roast dinner or the favorite family recipe of Baklava dessert, Yannas’ Taverna is sure to have something to satisfy any palette.

The restaurant is located in the Commonwealth Center shopping center, at the intersection of City Center and Warwick boulevards. “We don’t think a lot of people know we’re here,” says David. To promote their restaurant, Julie and David post to Facebook, participate in charitable events and most recently donated servings of soup to the Virginia Living Museum for its Bacchus Wine and Food Festival.

And families and friends who attend the annual Greek Festival find their way to Yannas’ to continue their cultural eating experience.

Greek-inspired wall murals and melodic bouzouki music transport diners to the Greek islands while they dine.

The most popular dishes on Yannas’ menu are its gyros and its chicken souvlaki. Julie says first-time visitors usually order a gyro and recognize that the restaurant has much more to offer. The chicken souvlaki is especially popular because of the high variability of the dish. It is available on a sandwich, with pasta, a salad or as a plated dinner. The basic recipe of this favorite is a marinated chicken breast in a special Greek sauce and cooked on a flat top. Julie says that cooking it on a flat top gives it “our special flavor.” The chicken is diced for serving. “We are constantly cutting chicken,” says David with a smile.

Another popular item on Yannas’ menu is the tzatziki sauce. It is not unusual to prepare 35 pounds of sauce at least once or twice a week. Other favorite dishes include the kabobs which come with chicken, shrimp or beef options.

Yannas’ Taverna offers both indoor and outdoor seating. As the weather warms, diners are happy to enjoy the “flavor” of outdoor patio dining with the soft Greek music enhancing their dining experience.

Because the restaurant is small, the Yacobis encourage reservations. “Dining before a theatre performance is especially popular,” Julie says.

Even though David and Julie are not of Greek descent, they call themselves “Greek Foodies.” Julie grew up in Michigan where she enjoyed authentic Greek food. The Yacobis are happy to continue serving Greek cuisine. Customers come from Smithfield and Suffolk to enjoy the Greek food.

A little bit of Greece right here in Newport News.

TO THE POINT:
Yannas’ Taverna
Contact: David and Julie Yacobi, owners
Address: 12714 Warwick Blvd., Ste. A, Newport News, VA 23606
Phone: 757-930-FETA (3382)
Website: www.yannastaverna.com

Melanie Occhiuzzo
About Melanie Occhiuzzo 4 Articles
Melanie Occhiuzzo is a senior at Christopher Newport University (CNU), pursuing a bachelor’s degree in English with a concentration in writing. She currently serves as editor-in-chief of The Captain’s Log, CNU’s student publication.

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