For almost 30 years, eating affordable late-night slices from Roppolo’s Pizzeria on Sixth Street has been a rite of passage for incoming University of Texas students. Soon they will able to get their pepperoni fix a little closer to home.
Owner Marc Roppolo tells CultureMap he will be opening the first campus location at 2604 Guadalupe St., Ste. A. The site is the former home of Fat Sal’s Deli, which shuttered in late 2018.
Roppolo says he always thought about being on campus, but the idea grew after a chance encounter with a university student. While catering a fraternity party approximately a year and a half ago, a business student asked why he wasn’t taking advantage of the student demographic.
“[She said], 'Everybody wants Roppolo’s on campus — and no one wants to go to Sixth Street after freshman year,” he says. After that, Roppolo immediately began looking at real estate in earnest.
Although the new outpost will be the first location outside of downtown since he opened the original shop on Spicewood Springs Road in 1989, it will not be his first full brick-and-mortar. Roppolo says that’s a common misconception. The location at 316 E. Sixth St., near Shakespeare’s, has a full dining room and patio — even if most customers overlook the front door.
“Ninety percent of Austin eats in the window,” he laughs.
The new campus location, however, will not be a carbon copy. Roppolo has drafted San Antonio restaurateur Veronica Esparza, a partner in Old San Francisco Steakhouse and Blanco BBQ, to help expand the menu. The Sicilian pies will be joined by house made wings, a burger named for his grandmother, Mama Rosalie’s Big Tex, and beer and wine.
If the buildout goes as planned, the new pizzeria should be open in time for the fall semester, but Roppolo isn’t rushing the process.
“We want to make sure that when people come, they really get an experience,” he says.