Fiamma Italian Grill reopens after a year of closure following a fire. The restaurant located at 2118 Schoenersville Rd. in Bethlehem, offers a variety of Italian cuisine. (Julia Contino/B&W Staff)

Join the Fiamma family: popular Italian restaurant reopens


Just before Valentine’s Day of 2022, the family-owned restaurant Fiamma Italian Grill shut down operations following a kitchen fire.

On Jan. 18, Fiamma, located at 2118 Schoenersville Rd., reopened roughly a year after closing.

Owner Joseph Jurkivo said he is excited to welcome the community back to the restaurant.

“Anyone that eats here one time or a thousand times is considered a part of our Fiamma family,” Jurkivo said.

Jurkivo said they successfully remodeled the restaurant, although they encountered issues with getting the proper equipment and construction workers along the way. 

As part of the remodel, he said the restaurant underwent a new kitchen installation and had modernized equipment added, including a new HVAC system with UV lights that kill 99.9% of bacteria and germs. 

“We are trying to make the dining experience safer for our patrons and loyal customers,” Jurkivo said. “As far as dining areas go in the Lehigh Valley, we’re probably one of the safest.” 

Jurkivo has worked at Fiamma for almost 30 years.

He started working at the restaurant as a busboy in 1996 when it was called Pane E. Vino Restaurant. In 2011, he purchased the business, and five years later, he renamed it Fiamma.

“Paolo Nota, the original chef who worked in the restaurant when I was 15, started teaching me,” Jurkivo said. “He became my mentor and friend, believing in me when I wanted to get my start in the food business.” 

Nota, who is originally from Northern Italy, has been in the food industry for 43 years. After relocating to the United States in the 1990s, Nota opened his first Italian eatery in New Jersey. 

Jurkivo said Nota sold his last restaurant, A Ca Mia, about five years ago and is now returning to Fiamma.

Out of respect for Jurkivo’s ideas, Nota said he will not be making any major changes to the menu at the beginning of the reopening process. 

Instead, Nota said he will gradually introduce new changes, particularly in the kitchen, as they grow more comfortable with the transition.

“It would be foolish for the restaurant to do something too drastic and change the Fiamma that customers know and love,” Nota said. 

He said he is excited to be returning to Fiamma and joining forces with Jurkivo.

Front entrance to Fiamma Italian Grill located at 2118 Schoenersville Rd in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. On Jan. 18, 2023, Fiamma reopened roughly a year after closing. (Julia Contino/B&W Staff)

The restaurant is highly regarded in the community, Jurkivo said, and is especially popular among Lehigh and Moravian University families.

“Nota and I are recognized as two of the powerhouse chefs in the Lehigh Valley as far as Italian cuisine goes,” Jurkivo said.

In the four days following their reopening announcement, Jurkivo said the restaurant received over 1,500 reservations. Their Facebook page was flooded with messages of support and excitement for the reopening, as well.

Independent wine consultant Steve DiDonato said he has supplied Jurkivo’s selection of wine since 2016. 

DiDonato said one of the reasons Fiamma is well-liked is because it has the largest Italian wine portfolio in the area. Fiamma’s list features wine from almost every region of Italy. 

One wine Fiamma offers is especially popular: Ricossa Barbera Appassimento from Piemonte, a region in Northwest Italy.

“Fiamma has sold so much of (Ricossa Barbera Appassimento) that the general manager of the winery sent him a personal note thanking him for his support over the years,” DiDonato said.

Nota said he hopes his relationship with Jurkivo contributes positively to the Bethlehem area by providing high-quality service.

“We want Fiamma to continue feeling like you’re eating at your grandmother’s house on a Sunday evening surrounded by your family,” Jurkivo said.

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