Restaurant Review: Nini Squares

Nini Squares brings pizza and family together in Fairhope.

Photos by Elizabeth Gelineau

The smell of pizza baking in the oven meets you right as you step inside. Behind the glass divider looking into the kitchen, a spread of pizzas stretches out nearly to all four corners of the counter. Blackboard signs bearing handwritten variety names perch just behind the squares: pepperoni, veggie, cheese… The staff rolls out dough to be baked just in time for the dinner rush in a few hours. 

Nini Squares has been a long time coming. Owner Chris Cullen was originally set to establish a second location of El Barrio, a Birmingham-based Mexican restaurant, in Fairhope, purchasing a property in 2019. “Before we were able to secure a construction loan, COVID happened, and the bank would not lend us money to open,” says Cullen. “Eventually, I had to sell it.” A year and a half into searching for a new location and planning concepts, he found the small house-turned-law office at the corner of Magnolia Avenue and North Bancroft Street. His business partners Brian Somershield and Geoff Lockert used to own a pizza restaurant in Birmingham, which Cullen had always loved. “I thought it would be a good fit in Fairhope to have pizza by the slice,” he says. They secured a lease on the house and did most of the buildout themselves. When it came time to name the pizzeria, the choice was clear. “My oldest child’s name is Nina and I’ve always affectionately called her Nini,” Cullen explains. “And our pizza is square shaped, so I landed on Nini Squares.”

Since opening in August, Nini Squares has been churning out pizza squares, along with the rest of its menu, to a steady stream of customers. “We see everybody here,” says Cullen. A group of adults seated inside chat between bites of salad, soup and pizza. Small children play in the fenced-in outside area while their parents catch up with friends at the picnic tables nearby. The option to get a single slice of pizza or an order of two with a side salad for a reasonable price makes it a popular lunch spot. The pizza flavors rotate, keeping regulars coming back to try new ones. The restaurant’s soups and warm pastas are an especially comforting cold-weather meal. Beer, wine and cocktails sit side by side with a rotating selection of non-alcoholic specialties. Any order is best followed by a serving of the indulgent tiramisu. With the rare dual capacity to suit both a nice dinner out and a casual lunch with friends, Nini Squares has quickly become an Eastern Shore favorite.

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On the Menu

Square Meal
Mix and match two pizza squares of your choice and enjoy a balsamic salad alongside. 

Soup Plate
Embrace soup season with a bowl of Nini Squares’ soup of the day with a side salad. A slice of fresh-made rosemary bread, which ends with a hint of salt and is perfect for dipping, makes this meal a cold-weather classic.

With lady fingers, custard, grated chocolate and espresso, how can you go wrong? The espresso that tops this must-try dessert is sourced from either Coffee Loft or Refuge Coffee.

Chicken Tortellini Salad
Cheese tortellini and roasted chicken sits atop a bed of mixed greens with apples, fennel, balsamic vinegar and goat cheese throughout.

 Nini Squares 451 Magnolia Ave, Fairhope • 929-8460 • Tue – Sat 11 a.m. – 8 p.m. 

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