Enticing aromas emerge from Nina’s Waffles at 31 West Mechanic Street in New Hope, Pa. It gets even better when you step inside! Not only are the aromas irresistible, but the waffles are prepared right before your eyes.
The 18th Century Liège waffle is the inspiration for Nina’s recipes, explains manager Heather Lacey. “Our owner Louis Zanias was born in Greece, but grew up in Brussels. He had the Liège waffle during recess at school, and from the time he was a boy, his dream was to introduce these waffles to the U.S.”
That dream came true in 2012, when Mr. Zanias opened Nina’s Waffles, which is named for his youngest daughter. His experience in the restaurant business has given him insight into achieving success in the food industry, but Nina’s Waffles is really in a class by itself.
“We have a great following. There has been terrific word-of-mouth,” reports Ms. Lacey. “It’s amazing how many people have become so passionate about it and how many customers keep coming again and again. People come in and bring the whole family, as well as guests who visit.”
Nina’s Waffles is set apart in many ways. To start, there is no other enterprise in the area offering the traditional Liège waffle, notes Ms. Lacey. “You really have to go to Manhattan, and no one has our special recipe.
“We make our own dough in a bakery here, and import pearl sugar from Belgium. Unlike other sugar, it doesn’t burn at high temperatures, but becomes caramelized. This helps provide the wonderful aroma people experience here.
“Sean Lawson is Louis’ partner at Nina’s, and he helped develop the recipe for the dough. He also works on the ice cream recipes. He and Louis invent new flavors every week. It’s Philadelphia-style ice cream, with no eggs. We have 100 flavors, with 16 typically available at any one time.”
A waffle and ice cream combination is a favorite for many, she adds. “Most people like to have ice cream on top of the waffle, but others enjoy the waffle plain with no topping. We call it a ‘Naked Waffle’, and it’s delicious because it has a light sweet flavor due to the caramelized sugar.”
Waffle bites are another very popular choice, especially topped by chocolate ganache sauce. “Five or six bites are in a serving, and chocolate is drizzled on top. Some people add a scoop of ice cream,” says Ms. Lacey,
In addition to chocolate, the variety of waffle toppings includes nutella banana, homemade whipped cream and strawberries, dulce de leche, apple whipped tatin cream, and peanut butter caramel.
The ice cream, which is made on-site with milk from a local dairy, is equally popular, and is available in cones and pints as well as atop the waffles. New flavors, such as key lime pie and blushing cheese cake, are added all the time. Special favorites include vanilla (still number one!), double chocolate, double espresso crunch, mint chocolate chip, sea salt caramel, orange honey blossom, roasted raspberry, and toasted coconut — to mention just some!
“Our small batch ice cream has something for everyone,” points out Ms. Lacey. “Our motto is ‘a little sugar and a lot of love’. We want to be sure that people taste the flavor and not the sugar.”
Nina’s Waffles offers take-out, sit-down for 20 as well as catering, and Ms. Lacey is enthusiastic about the waffle and ice cream truck, which is available for parties and corporate events.
“We have done parties for the eating clubs at Princeton University, and we will be adding a second truck this fall. It’s a vintage 1971 British truck, and we’ll be able to handle even more events. We really look forward to watching the business grow.”
A second Nina’s Waffles opened in Doylestown, Pa. recently at 30 East State Street, she reports, and this, too, is enjoying a very positive customer response.
“And here in New Hope, we get people from all over, including lots from Princeton. On weekends, many come from Philadelphia and Cherry Hill, and in addition to the great word-of-mouth, many find us on-line. We were also voted the best waffles in the entire area in ‘The Best of Philly’ in Piladelphia Magazine.
Assorted pastries, including small individual tarts and cakes, are also available at Nina’s, as are gluten-free products.
Waffles are priced at $3 for plain and $5.50 with a scoop of ice cream. Ice cream cones are $2.95 and up, starting with kiddie size (available for all ages).
In addition to the tasty waffles and ice cream, customers enjoy the friendly, down-to-earth atmosphere at Nina’s. The staff has a good time, as does Ms. Lacey. Elizabeth Duane, points out that “Heather goes out of her way to explain to the staff how everything should be done, and in a very fun and nice way. We all enjoy sharing information about the waffles and ice cream with the customers.”
Adds Ms. Lacey: “We really look forward to greeting the people. I’ve been in the restaurant business a long time, and it still touches my heart to hand a little girl an ice cream cone and watch her eyes light up or to see someone’s face when they taste our waffles for the first time. I think we spread happiness!”
Nina’s Waffles is open Wednesday and Thursday 1 to 9 p.m., Friday 1 to 10 p.m., Saturday noon to 10 p.m. and Sunday noon to 9 p.m. After Memorial Day, hours will be extended to seven days through the summer and fall. (215) 862-1660.