To get a taste of Lebanon, one need not even step outside campus boundaries. Only eight weeks after its opening, Yella, a Modern Mediterranean Grille, has already established itself as an upscale hotspot in downtown Andover. Located on Post Office Avenue, where Cassis used to be, Yella is an excellent but expensive little restaurant run by Danielle and Carlo Berdahn. Carlo Berdahn is the chef for Yella. “[He] was born and raised in Lebanon, so the food is very Lebanese-inspired with other Mediterranean influences, including Greek. I’m Italian, so all together it’s a diverse mix,” said Danielle Berdahn. “This is my first time running a restaurant, but my husband ran one out on [Cape Cod.] It was called Phoenecia Café.” The couple’s new restaurant in Andover is called Yella, which means “Come on, let’s go!” in Lebanese. “It’s a very endearing term that felt warmand inviting,” said Danielle Berdahn. Indeed, the restaurant is personal yet sophisticated, making Yella a perfect getaway from harsh winter weather. With candle-lit tables and a small bar, Yella seats a cozy forty-six clients in the evenings. It’s small enough for each table to appreciate the friendly and efficient service and welcoming atmosphere. The meal begins with a complementary appetizer of crispy pita chips and smooth hummus, served on a funky wire platter. Soup, salad and appetizer options range from five to thirteen dollars and include everything from a traditional Caesar salad to a “Mediterranean Mezza Platter,” which boasts kibbe, meat pies, grape leaves, spring rolls, falafel and babaganouj. “Sautéed Shrimp Linguine and Braised Eggplant” and “Zucchini Ratatouille” are two delicious examples of the fourteen to twenty-eight dollar entrées on the dinner menu. Dessert, however, is the highlight of the meal. The Baklava is mouth-watering, and the Banana and Chocolate Crepe with Vanilla Gelato is exquisite. Frequent Yella with an open mind, for some of the traditional Mediterranean options are quite exotic. The Mediterranean Chicken, for example, is a blend of pulled chicken, almonds, pine nuts, rice and yogurt, but it is delicious and worth trying. Yella also has a popular lunch menu, incorporating less-expensive versions of its evening courses with various wraps and other take-away options. The Berdhans get their delicious ingredients from a variety of sources. They buy local produce whenever the weather permits but get many spices from Carlo Berdhan’s mother, who lives in a village in Lebanon. The rest of the ingredients are imported directly from Lebanon. The couple chose Andover as the location for their new restaurant for a variety of reasons: “I grew up in North Andover. It seemed like a natural choice,” said Danielle Berdahn. “It’s a very involved community. The downtown area has a lot of character and life. We wanted somewhere that had an energy to it, where we’d feel welcome. That’s what we got here.” Check out Yella for fabulous and authentic food that will transport you to the Mediterranean.
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