Though the standard wine-bottles-and-candles decor of Yefsi Estiatorio doesn’t immediately convey the Upper East Side restaurant’s Greek heritage, once the food arrives, you’ll know. Hailing from Cyprus, chef Christos Christou (Molyvos) taps into that upbringing in a menu of traditionally-minded Mediterranean fare. The backyard and sidewalk seating area are overflowing during peak dinner hours, so opt for the expansive, 70-seat dining room, which feels full but not crowded.
For appetizers, the star of the Feta Sto Fourno ($11) sanwdich was unsurprisingly the generous slab of creamy feta cheese. An underlying layer tomato wasn't nearly as fresh, failing to brighten up the richness of the cheese-and-eggplant sandwich. The zucchini and eggplant Yefsi Chips ($16) were deliciously crisp and crunchy, but they could’ve used double the dollop of tzatzkiki sauce with chunks of cucumber—this was quickly supplied upon request.
On the entree front, the heaping portion of grilled wild salmon Solomos ($25) was offset by a soft bed of leek rice pilaf. The roasted chicken Biologico Kotopoulo ($25) was seasoned evenly with an array of fragrant Greek herbs, and the accompanying potatoes smacked nicely of lemon. Both dishes paired well with our server's recommendation of an earthy, berry-hinted 2014 Gravelly Ford Pinot Noir ($10).
The house take on baklava ($8) is a must-order for dessert. Here, the phyllo dough layered with crushed walnuts and honey is a bit more sticky than flaky, but there’s an easy solution—combine it with the galatoboureko ($8), a phyllo and custard dessert that’s a more uncommon find in NYC’s Greek restaurants. It's a fitting end to Yefsi's feast of Greek grub—a tried-and-true approach to the cuisine with a few surprising gems in the mix.