Jesta’ Pizza reopens in Jester Residence Hall with upgraded features

Dylan Rasbridge

Jesta’ Pizza, which makes personalized pizzas in Jester Residence Hall, celebrated its grand reopening Wednesday with free pizza and a prize wheel with vouchers for free food and drinks. 

The restaurant had its soft opening Monday and is now fully operational after being closed for renovations since spring 2019, said Rene Rodriguez, director of food service for University Housing and Dining. Customers can now go to the counter and choose between toppings, cheese, protein and sauce. The new model lets customers specify to the server what they want before the pizza is put in an oven for about five minutes.  

“Before, we used to use a sheet of dough,” Rodriguez said. “Now we actually press the dough out in front of the students, and we allow them to build their own pizza.”

Rodriguez said UHD sought input from students and vetted the new operation design based on trendy Austin pizza restaurants. UHD held taste testings and took students to four Austin pizza restaurants to help develop Jesta’ Pizza’s upgraded ingredients and optimize the serving line design. 

“The biggest trend is that people like to see what you’re doing … and being able to custom-make your pizza,” Rodriguez said.

Gerard Smithwrick, complex coordinator of Moore-Hill and Creekside Residence Halls, built his own custom pizza at the opening. 

“I like that they went to Roppolo’s and Pizza Press,” Smithwrick said. “They mirrored that customizable build-your-own pizza, and I really like that you can add on whatever you like for no extra price. I think students will really like it.”

Neuroscience sophomore Adam Czernuszenko, who attended the opening, said he thought Jesta’ Pizza looks and tastes better than it did previously. 

“The pizza was great,” Czernuszenko said. “I like that it’s customizable and that instead of choosing from whatever options, you can make your own. Plus, it’s relatively cheap.”


Finance junior Aditya Shankar said that as a vegetarian, it is difficult to find food on campus. Jesta’ Pizza is now a new option for her, and she said she likes the new vegetarian option more than the previous one served before the restaurant closed for renovations.

“This is easy to make vegetarian, so I appreciate that” Shankar said.