If you find yourself on the Square on any given Friday or Saturday night, especially during a football weekend, you might imagine you were suddenly dropped into the middle of a big metropolis. The sidewalks are full of people shuffling from bar to bar, and there’s an exciting buzz to all the activity taking place. It feels like a smaller version of Bourbon Street or even Times Square.
But then, when the clock strikes 10:00 p.m., and you feel like getting something to eat, the big city illusion fades away. Nearly every kitchen on the Square closes down for the night. Nearly every kitchen, but not all of them. Staying open every night until 30 minutes after the bars shut down is Square Pizza, which offers a simple menu of pizza (either whole or by the slice), sandwiches (roast beef, turkey-bacon, and meatball), salads, and chips.
Square Pizza owner Tate Moore used to play in the rock-and-roll band Kudzu Kings (and still makes occasional appearances) until he decided he needed, in his words, “a real job.” Originally hailing from southeast Ohio, he decided to open a place that served the kind of thin crust pizza topped with provolone cheese that he grew up with, and which is common to Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. He confidently believes that his pizza is the best for 1,000 miles.
Whether because of his late hours or because they share his sentiment, Oxford’s nighttime party goers seem to agree, as Moore says that it’s this crowd that “pays the bills.” But Square Pizza is not just a quick stop for the after-hours crowd. Sporting a cool-funky interior that was inspired by the Hoka, Square Pizza can be a quiet refuge from the outside world during times when the bar crowd hasn’t arrived yet. The pizzeria sports a 1980s Ms. Pacman game in the back and even a fully stocked bookshelf with everything from magazines to crime novels to travel books (I was particularly intrigued by the Victor Book of the Opera, a work last published in 1976). The walls are an encyclopedia of Oxford band posters with some advertising gigs in such long-lost locales as Opal’s and Syd and Harry’s. Framed over the kitchen area is a New Orleans Saints jersey once belonging to Ole Miss legend Deuce McAllister.
Square Pizza is open for lunch every day except for Sunday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., while evening hours are a bit more eccentric. On Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, the restaurant opens at 6:00 p.m., while from Monday to Wednesday, it doesn’t open until 9:00 p.m. In all cases, they are there when the downtown starts to shut down, and if you are one who likes to be at your local watering hole until closing time, you still have a half hour for that late night (or early morning) slice before heading on home. Square Pizza will take a short break between December 24 and 29, but will return to help you ring in the New Year.
About Danny Toma:
After spending time exploring Italy, Ireland, Poland, Israel, Iraq, Germany, and, perhaps most exotically, Washington, Danny Toma is now back in Oxford to stay after a 22-year career with the U.S. Department of State. He enjoys dining out, as well as cooking in, and contributes to EatingOxford.com on a regular basis.