Plant-based Pizzeria Verdura Sincera replaces long-standing Zesto in Little Five Points

The proprietors tested 30 nondairy cheeses to find the best of the best

Margherita pizza

Photo by Heidi Harris

Amid the smoke shops, tattoo parlors, vintage shops, and staples like the Vortex, Zesto stood strong, pulling a crowd of Little Five Points regulars for nearly 60 years. It shuttered in 2021 after a tree fell on the building. David Smith—a partner in El Super Pan, SmoQ’n Hot Grill, and Dos Burros, and chief investment officer at Trowbridge Partners—has taken over the space and launched a plant-based pizza shop called Pizzeria Verdura Sincera (377 Moreland Avenue) on April 27. There, he and his partners researched 80 nondairy cheeses, testing 30, and scoring the top five based on flavor, elasticity, melting, and browning. The result was five pizzas featuring soy cheese (a mozzarella and a Mexican blend) that can please both vegans and flexitarians.

Smith created the menu and recipes harkening back to his first job at age 15 in a Long Island pizzeria. The restaurant uses organic, non-GMO flour and boasts a crust that’s in between Neapolitan and New York style. There’s a Margherita, Giardino (veggie), Greco (spinach, garlic, mushrooms, and olives), Come La Carne (plant-sourced sausage and pepperoni), and Messicano (spicy vegan sausage, sweet and spicy peppers, corn, onions, garlic, and ginger). Expect a mixed green salad, vegan tiramisu, and vegan raspberry and passion fruit torte.

Greco pizza

Photo by Heidi Harris

“The idea is to be all natural. Every ingredient is certified organic, non-GMO or kosher,” Smith says.

A concise beverage menu will be available once the liquor license is secured—think a few Italian wines, two local beers, and two European beers. Special “Riserva” wine options will be available to those in the know.

Though the 75-year-old building was basically gutted, one item remains as a tribute to its roots: a Zesto mural on the retaining wall on the south side of property. “We will never take it down,” Smith promises. Inside, original bricks were uncovered and cleaned up to provide a terracotta and aquamarine look to the walls. The ceiling is now wood, the floor concrete. Wooden banquettes, a dining bar, and a high-top communal table comprise 50 available seats. A hand-calligraphed chalkboard menu hangs above service counter. Smith describes it as a “really artisan vibe.”

Diners order at the counter and food is brought to their table. Delivery will soon be available via third-party apps such as DoorDash. As for Smith, he and his partners are already looking for additional locations in Atlanta.

Come La Carne pizza

Photo by Heidi Harris