ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Nicole Kapnison remembers growing up at Yanni’s. And now she owns the restaurant that is celebrating its 25th year.
Kapnison recently bought the restaurant that opened when she was 5-years-old from her mother Chris Komis. Kapnison, who also recently sold Nob Hill Bar & Grill, is a child of Nob Hill and once again part of its rebirth.
“It’s crazy because I kind of grew up in Nob Hill when there was a lot more kind of toy stores and more kid friendly stores and kind of got turned more into a nightclub area and more restaurants and now I feel like it’s becoming more of a foodie destination again with just a lot of new growth and there’s a lot of things happening in the area,” Kapnison said.
Yanni’s found a way to survive the Albuquerque Rapid Transit project unlike many other Nob Hill businesses.
“I think with Yanni’s and with Nob Hill (Bar & Grill) is we just tried to keep everything consistent and not sacrifice our quality because we were suffering,” Kapnison said about withstanding ART. “We kept the same quality and we took care of our staff always first before ourselves and we have a loyal clientele that obviously kept us going and we’re so thankful for that.”
In celebration of Yanni’s 25th anniversary, the restaurant has launched a new menu created by Kapnison and Chef Tyson Putman, formerly of Nob Hill Bar & Grill.
“We’ve kept all the favorites, of course, but we really focused on getting higher quality products so more sustainable sourced seafood, organic meats and local produce as well,” Kapnison said.
Yanni’s most popular items are its Saganaki, its parmesan encrusted sole as well as its roasted rack of lamb marinated in garlic and oregano and finished with a fig and mint jelly, according to Kapnison.
“(The Saganaki) comes out lit on fire,” she said. “It’s a Greek cheese that we light on fire and serve out tableside and serve it with a pita. We are doing all of our
pita bread in house now. We’re making all of that ourselves. They’re so yummy and then our Baklava is a crowd favorite.”
Yanni’s is offering a great seafood stew just in time for the cold weather. The stew features white fish, scallops, head on shrimp and calamari in a tomato ouzo and sage broth. Kapnison has also added a fish course commonly found in Greece, which she visited last summer.
“We take a whole fresh fish, right now its red snapper, and encrust the entire fish in sea salt, bake it in our brick pizza oven,” she said. “The crust is then cracked, the fish is de-boned, and is served tableside by the chef.”
In addition to the new menu, Yanni’s lounge will also be revamped and once again feature live music on Saturdays.
“We’re going to redo the bar in the next few months as an oyster bar,” Kapnison said. “It will be cool. It will be really fun. We’ll have a new cocktail list and wine list coming out.”
The bar will continue to feature Yanni’s popular staple Greek wines as well as Ouzo and Metaxa.
“Ouzo is an apertif,” Kapnison said. “It’s supposed to warm your stomach and prepare you for a big meal and then Metaxa is known as a digestif, (which aids with digestion).”
That bright and sunny patio area also has been renovated.
“We just wanted to brighten it up and add a lot of plants and some new lighting,” Kapnison said. “It’s just really a nice bright space to be in and the sun just really beats down on that room. It’s such a nice area to sit out on.”
Yanni’s will open a sister restaurant in the Highland Central Market, a food court tentatively expected to open next summer across from Presbyterian Hospital near I-25 and Central.
“That’s going to be a smaller Mediterranean concept like a quick serve but of course we will have our homemade pitas,” Kapnison said. “We don’t have a menu yet but we will be packaging our own olive oils just quick nice dishes that are great for caterings.”