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About this blog: I am a perpetually hungry twenty-something journalist, born and raised in Menlo Park and currently working at the Palo Alto Weekly as education and youth staff writer. I graduated from USC with a major in Spanish and a minor in jo...  (More)

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Palo Altans to open Hellenic restaurant

Uploaded: Dec 28, 2017
Two veterans of the local culinary scene who met at Evvia Estiatorio in Palo Alto 10 years ago are finally pursuing a decade-long dream of opening their own restaurant.

Thanasis Pashalidis and Hakan Bala are behind Taverna, a Hellenic restaurant opening at 800 Emerson St. They took over the space from the owners of La Morenita, which is set to close Friday, Dec. 29.

Hakan Bala, left, and Thanasis Pashalidis stand outside the future home of Taverna in downtown Palo Alto. Photo by Veronica Weber.

Bala, a native of Turkey, has worked as a server at Evvia for the last decade. Pashalidis, who is Greek, worked at Evvia and San Francisco sister restaurant Kokkari for eight years before stints as captain server at the Michelin-starred Village Pub in Woodside and manager at Mayfield Bakery & Cafe in Palo Alto.

Taverna will be a farm-to-table, "Hellenic-inspired" neighborhood restaurant open for lunch and dinner, the two said in an interview Thursday. There will be a "strong emphasis" on seasonality and vegetables, as well as seafood and wine (both local and international). They plan to make pasta and charcuterie items in house. Pashalidis said they hope to expose diners to lesser-known Hellenic dishes.

William Roberts will be Taverna's executive chef. He's worked at Michael Mina in San Francisco, The Village Pub, Mayfield and Dio Deka in Los Gatos.

The co-owners, both Palo Alto residents, said they want Taverna to be a place for people to take a break from what Pashalidis described as the "rat race of Palo Alto."

He said they're not trying to compete with their alma mater, Evvia, which anchors the other end of Emerson Street several blocks away.

"To be even categorized in that, one, is an honor, but I can't compete. It's like saying my uncle is my competition," he said. "It really is family."

They hope to open Taverna by this spring.


 +   3 people like this
Posted by Menlo Park Greeks, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park,
on Dec 29, 2017 at 10:58 am

Congratulations on this wonderful new adventure!! We look forward to dining with you when the restaurant opens :)

 +   5 people like this
Posted by Abitarian, a resident of Downtown North,
on Dec 29, 2017 at 6:03 pm

"The co-owners, both Palo Alto residents, said they want Taverna to be a place for people to take a break from what Pashalidis described as the 'rat race of Palo Alto.'"

I hope this means the cuisine will be priced more modestly than Evvia!

 +   5 people like this
Posted by parent, a resident of Downtown North,
on Dec 29, 2017 at 7:38 pm

Yes, we would be happy to see more healthy, family-friendly restaurants downtown

 +   3 people like this
Posted by Erika Papakipos, a resident of Portola Valley,
on Dec 30, 2017 at 2:34 am

Wow! This is such fantastic news! Congratulations, Thanassi on your new venture! Can't wait to try it!

 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Dan Pitt, a resident of Downtown North,
on Dec 31, 2017 at 1:41 pm

I believe the address is 800 Emerson, not 880. That was La Morenita's address and makes sense at the beginning of the block.

La Morenita was so friendly. I hope the owners entered into a happy retirement.

 +   1 person likes this
Posted by PA Mom, a resident of Old Palo Alto,
on Jan 1, 2018 at 12:24 pm

How exciting!! We need another Greek restaurant in Palo Alto- I love, love, love Evvia, of course- but it would be great to have a taverna-type place as well. Congratulations to the new restauranteurs! Wishing you tremendous success.

 +   1 person likes this
Posted by George, a resident of Downtown North,
on Jan 7, 2018 at 7:45 pm

These are two of the nicest, hardest working fellows in the Palo Alto restaurant scene for years. They deserve the full support of the community - good luck guys. Rooting for you - surely it will be great!

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