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Apr 14, 2010 06:53 AM

Alina's in South Deerfield

As promised a while ago, my wife and I have made a few trips now to Alina's in South Deerfield, on the site of the once-great-then-lousy SIenna. First time we were there they hadn't gotten their liquor license yet, so folks were directed across the street to pick up a bottle, but that money-saving feature is no longer working. Ah well. Don't drink wine myself, but my wife tells me the selection is solid, so I'll go along with her info.

Food has been great on our visits thus far. They reorganized the room a little bit, but it still has the open uncrowded feel that SIenna did. They kept the bar as well, and it appears you can get full meal service up there as well.

Anyway, the food and service have both been very cool on each visit. I have become somewhat addicted to their beet salad ($8), which is one of the most eye-pleasing arrangements of food I've ever seen, and has an amazing taste -- gorgonzola, light orange dressing, braised endives. Man, it is very fine. I have also gotten hooked on the Pollo Saltin Boca ($18), which is is somewhat similar to a Cordon Bleu, but with prosciutto, asiago and pesto. Very fine stuff.

My wife has usually gone for multiple appetizers or the half plates of the pasta, but she won't share so I don't know exactly what they taste like. My daughter -- picky eater that she is -- fully approves of the kids menu (nice touch at an upscale resto -- pasta, cheese ravioli or chicken parm 6/7 bucks) -- and the desserts have been uniformly excellent ($7).

Most of the nights we've been there they had some sort of promotional thing going on where you'd get a free cup of soup or something & i was just looking at their site, and noticed they have different promo things on different nights.

Anyway, they're dinner only for now (be nice if that changed), closed Mondays, and they've been doing good enough biz that you probably wanna make reservations if you're driving from elsewhere. We haven't been shut-out in this respect yet, but I'm assuming the word of mouth will grow if they keep the pace they're at.

The first time we went they didn't have any specials and the menu itself is on the short side (as Sienna's was), but they have added a few things subsequently -- usually a fish, a meat and a poultry. There's not a ton of vegetarian offering, but their winter vegetable risotto (presumably this will change seasonally) was a huge hit with our daughter one night, and she was kind enough to share a forkfull. Goddamn yummy.

I am stoked this place is open. Our last couple of trips to that Di Paulo place in Turners were pretty disappointing. It would be great if they could figure out how to have an outdoor dining section for the warm weather, but for now, let's just say my stomach is growling. I think I'll hit the place again tonight.

Check out menu and whatnot at their site.


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  1. both my kid's requested dinner here as their last meals before returning to their respective schools, so we've had a couple more chances to sample its menu this past month, and i must say it's highly pleasant. last time had the short ribs appetizer off the specials and they were amazing, served on polenta with a tomato coulis. i'm just hoping the beet season kicks in again soon, since that beet salad is one of my fave dishes ever. entrees were gorgeous -- sesame crusted salmon with polenta, spring vegetable rissotto, penne with chicken and broccoli -- and everything was just ducky. place was crowded the last two visits as well, so i'm assuming it's getting on folks' radar a little. really nice to have atop flight place in the shell of the old sienna.


    1 Reply
    1. re: fatheryod

      Thanks for the update. We plan our first visit soon. I too am way underwhelmed by the snooty mediocrity of Di Paulo.

    2. Four of us ate here Friday night. I have to say it was the finest dining experience I have had, which is saying a lot since I've lived in the Northampton area for 50 years, and dine out often. Everything was impeccable - food, service, ambience. Even the linen was perfect. We enjoyed the fried calamari with a delicious spicy horseradish cream sauce; the calamari was perfectly fresh and crisp. The brasato al barolo was falling-off-the-bone tender and the taste was fabulous. Main courses were Chicken piccata (the best, moist chicken I've ever tasted), cannelloni, a seafood special with fettucine, mussels, clams, etc., and a winter risotto featuring winter squash and candied walnuts. I do believe the pasta for the cannelloni was hand-made; unbelievably thin and perfectly cooked, making a sometimes heavy dish a light delight. Do not miss that winter risotto - heavenly! And the seafood pasta special was excellent. The wine list is quite good and the wines were served expertly at the perfect temperature. Prices are very reasonable. You simply cannot get a meal like this anywhere else in the area, including restaurant-rich Northampton. The chef is very engaging, and gave us a complimentary cup of delicious chowder before the meal. The bar is also very comfortable with an expert bartender. The hostess does everything right, and the service is professional. Don't miss this experience!

      1 Reply
      1. re: tatwood2

        glad to hear you enjoyed it. my wife and i live in the area and hit it as often as our wallets will allow. have not been disappointed yet. really fills the hole sienna left.


      2. So...Honestly, I hated Sienna with a passion. Including the "early" Sienna. I'm happy to try Alina, but please tell me that it has no ties to Sienna, other than it's space.

        11 Replies
        1. re: johnblacksox

          no ties at all.
          I am so interested in this restaurant. I tried to take a friend there for dinner last night but she said "bleh, mediocre.", so I am confused. Her favorite restaurant is Gypsy Apple.
          She wants to try Nudel, so we are going there instead.

          Gypsy Apple
          65 Bridge St, Shelburne Falls, MA 01370

          35 Church Street, Lenox, MA 01240

          1. re: magiesmom

            No reason for confusion - just go and see for yourself, rather than taking someone else's opinion to heart. People's tastes vary. I find Alina's to be a wonderful experience in all ways (food, service, ambiance) and would go there every week if I could. The food is definitely better that anything I've had anywhere else (except for that three-star in the French Alps, of course). And johnblacksox - no ties to Sienna at all!

            1. re: tatwood2

              We finally got there tonight and were very pleased. Three of us had steak specials, filets or sirloins, all of which were really good and cooked precisely a as ordered, served over a lovely plum and shitake risotto. The fourth person had the swordfish special, pistachio crusted with a citrus sauce which she loved. We all enjoyed our meals, though right behind us was seated a large party with an undisciplined two year old whose father spent a long time talking on his cell . I wish restaurants would ban cellphones and enforce the ban !
              But all in all it was a lovely evening and the quality of food was very high. We will go again.

              1. re: magiesmom

                sorry to hear about the rude fellow diners, but i'm glad you finally made it & found it up to snuff. we live right up the road, so i sometimes worry i'm biased, but we have found it a consistently solid place to eat. we usually hit it on weeknights, when the crowd is thinner & we can take advantage of their rotating weeknight specials.

                1. re: fatheryod

                  I was excited to hear from Tatwood about Alina's but somewhat deflated to see that the owner/head chef worked for many years at Carmelina's. The latter is not my idea of a good restaurant (too much like Spoleto) so I am now dubious. Tell me how it is not an over-rich, heavy-handed Italian place. I have a somewhat delicate digestion and find I do better with ethnic restaurants than American places.

                  1. re: jzzy55

                    jzzyy55, sorry I didn't see this sooner. Six of us just ate here again, and even though they had a full house, everything was fabulous. I agree completely with your assessment of Carmelina's - I never cared for it, either. Go to Alina's website and have a look at the menu. Last time, my husband had a sea bass special that was wonderful. Their cannelloni is made with homemade pasta which is amazingly light. There are no dishes with thick, heavy tomato sauce and gooey cheese; the food is much more subtle and refined. Give it a try!

                    1. re: tatwood

                      I second that recommendation. I too was put off by the fact that the chef cooked at Carmelina's. Alina's is nothing like Carmelina's! It has been great every time we have gone there.

                      1. re: tatwood

                        Thanks Tatwood and JunieB for the helpful comments. We'll give it a try. I literally can't digest that kind of over sauced, cheesy, heavy, acidic (cheap tomatoes) Italian food anymore. But a nicely cooked piece of fish...yum.

                        1. re: jzzy55

                          I hope this works. Chowhound always has problems loading photos. This is a photo of my husband's entree on one of our visits. Also an amazing beet salad!

                          1. re: JunieB

                            i think they excel at fish. we have been there twice (should go more often) and the seafood that both me and my husband ordered was cooked to perfection. i always fear ordering salmon in a restaurant because they tend to overcook it, but i had the salmon special here twice and both times it was just lovely. you should definitely give it a try.

                            1. re: saintp

                              I never ever eat at Carmelina's and like Alina's a lot. My partner had some of the best swordfish we have ever eaten there. Steaks are good too. Sides are uninspired, though.