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Alina’s Ristorante reopens in Hadley at former site of Carmelina’s

Martin Amaya and Maritza Amaya-Branche, an Easthampton couple, recently opened Alina’s Ristorante at 96 Russell St., a restaurant next to the historic town common, which since 1985 has been known as Carmelina’s on the Common.

Their intent is to restore the restaurant, which is named after their 9-year-old daughter, to what customers remember about dining at Carmelina’s for the past 27 years.

In 2007, Damien DiPaolo sold the business he founded in 1985 to Amaya and David and Debbie Windoloski. Amaya left in 2010 to open Alina’s in South Deerfield village center.

“I want to bring back the old Carmelina’s,” said Amaya, who had been the head chef at Carmelina’s. “People will see familiar faces.”

These include the return of bartender Steve Trembel, known for his martinis, and piano player Emory Smith, who will perform Friday and Saturday nights, Amaya said. “People are used to seeing Emory play.”

Amaya-Branche said even with the long history of Carmelina’s, the couple wanted to use the name from their South Deerfield restaurant for the Route 9 location.

“Martin has a good reputation with the name Alina’s. He’s worked hard for that,” Amaya-Branche said.

“When people walk in we know their name. We’re connected to the customers,” Amaya-Branche said. “Our success is based on people being genuine and being treated like family.”

She said the restaurant will continue to use local produce and prepare all food on site daily.

Alina’s opened Nov, 1, following three days in which the owners cleaned the space from top to bottom. “This is going to be our home, so we make sure it’s maintained well,” Amaya-Branche said.

These include the bar area, which overlooks the kitchen, the piano room at one end and, at the other, a room designated the South Deerfield room, for their continued affection for the village. There is also a function room in the basement with a small bar that can be rented for parties.

Amaya had a long career at Carmelina’s. When he immigrated to the United States from El Salvador in 1994, he spent afternoons and evenings as a dishwasher at Carmelina’s after working for Mezza Luna in Northampton in the mornings.

“That’s where I fell in love with baking,” Amaya said.

Additional changes may come early next year, he said. For now, the couple is excited to be working together each day and evening and doing what they love.

“We have a good relationship,” Amaya said.

“We make a good team,” Amaya-Branche said.

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