General News

Vivi Christogianni Knows Her Pizza: It’s the Greek Diner Training

You wouldn't know it but behind the pizza and Italian dishes at Al Forno Pizza & Pasta in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania is a Greek woman who moved to the United States at 11 in 1998, whose father operated six restaurants while she was growing up. 

Vivi Christogianni's family still runs the Hellertown Diner in a nearby town but she and her husband Aaron Kochsmeier are making their mark in their own place which opened in September, during the time of living dangerously with COVID-19. 

“I grew up in this business,” she told The Morning Call. “I’ve done everything from line cooking and sautés to dishwashing and management. The one thing I didn’t know though was how to make pizza. So, we spent some time training with my uncle in Virginia as he’s had a pizza restaurant there for over 35 years.” 

“We’re kind of pizza fanatics,” Christogianni said. “It’s our favorite food, and when we travel, we always like to try different styles. Here, we’re doing pan-style. It’s not super deep like Chicago-style, but it’s still pan pizza, which is not very common in the Lehigh Valley.” 


Food Network host Guy Fieri, who gets around the United States and now lives in Florida, went to the Hellenic Republic restaurant in Coral Springs and said he had “hands down, the best Greek food he's had.

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