Yia Yia's serves authentic Greek food with a cup of hospitality

Apr 30 2019 | 06:34 AM

    By Marilyn Rosenthal
    When you walk into Yia Yia’s Greek Kitchen, you feel like you've just landed in Greece.
    You are greeted warmly by Anastasia Zois, who owns this family-run restaurant with her husband, Yiorgos Hrissohoidis, otherwise known as George. Their 17-year-old daughter, Eva, works in the restaurant around her school schedule.
    They love to share Greek culture with their customers. Anastasia explains each of the dishes and the Greek tradition of “kerasma,” a free token of welcome. “Kerasma” means “treat” and is usually served at the end of a meal, accompanying the check. It could be ice cream, fruit, traditional Greek sweets, yogurt with honey, or a delicious spoon of fruit preserves.
    Anastasia and George were born in Greece. Anastasia attended school in the United States for a year or two before going back to Greece, then returning as an adult. She and George lived in Astoria, Queens, with their two children, Dimitri and Eva. They eventually left New York and bought a house in Milford.
    It was always Anastasia’s dream to open a restaurant where she would serve homestyle Greek food. They did this for five years at the Layton Country Store in Layton, N.J., where they built a loyal clientele. Six months ago, they brought Greek family food closer to Milford when they opened Yia Yia’s Greek Kitchen in Montague, N.J., just over the bridge.
    Waiting for the smile
    Yia Yia means “Grandma” in Greek, and, indeed, many of the delicious recipes made in the restaurant come from Anastasia’s mother. George is the grill man. He grills souvlaki, gyros, lamb, chicken, and other meats. He also prepares the desserts, including baklava and tiramisu.
    Anastasia prepares the hot and cold appetizers, like spanakopita (spinach pie), dolmades (stuffed grape leaves), tzatziki (yogurt, cucumber, and garlic dip), and specialty platters, including moussaka (eggplant baked in meat sauce and topped with white sauce).
    Yia Yia's large selection of dishes are all featured in the menu on their Facebook page (Yia Yia’s Greek Kitchen).
    Anastasia points to the freshness and quality of her ingredients.
    “Our feta cheese, Kalamata olives, and extra-virgin olive oil are imported from Greece," she said. "Our pitas are made by hand, and our gyro meat is authentic and hand-cut. Our appetizers are our own recipes and are prepared fresh. We source local vegetables for our salads, and our meats are purchased daily from the local butcher.”
    This family is living the American dream, sharing their culture in the business they created. Eva is bringing her family's hospitality into the next generation.
    "I love interacting with the people, working with my family, and honoring them," she said. "I especially enjoy watching people taste the food and then flash a big smile across their face.”
    Essential information
    Address: 432 US Route 206, Montague, N.J.
    Phone: 973-948-8088
    Hours: Open Tuesday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.; closed Monday
    Reservations suggested during summer weekends
    Bring your own bottle