Review: Pesto Sacchettini from Panera Bread

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You may have heard that Panera has expanded its menu from items brought to you by the letter S (soups, salads, and sandwiches) to feature three new pasta dishes. Technically, it’s not the first foray into the pasta world for Panera. Mac and cheese has been on the menu since late 2010, but the three new “Premium Signature Pastas” — Tortellini Alfredo, Rustic Penne Bolognese, and Pesto Sacchettini — are significantly more complex. Intrigued by a new noodle, I went with the last option. All of the new pastas come with your choice of a cafe soup or salad, and bread.Panera Bread PastaPanera describes the Pesto Sacchettini as “purse-like pasta filled with six cheeses: Ricotta, Parmesan, Romano, Monterey Jack, Cheddar and Mozzarella, tossed with basil pesto and sprinkled with Asiago and Parmesan cheeses.”

Sounds tasty, right? Well, it’s probably no big surprise that pasta stuffed with six different types of cheese and topped with even more cheese was pretty damn delicious.

Panera Pesto SachettiniThe pasta was cooked perfectly al dente, and the cheeses inside were melty and flavorful. The predominant cheese of the six-cheese blend is the ricotta, which made the filling creamy, milky, and soft. On top, the flakes of asiago and parmesan didn’t fully melt, but the more intense flavors were a nice complement to the milder cheese filling inside the sacchettini pasta.Pesto Sacchettini PaneraPesto sauce is often hit or miss. It can easily be too heavily applied or too astringent. Panera’s pesto is light on the pine nuts and garlic, and heavy on the basil and olive oil, making it taste more like a basil tinged oil than anything else. For me, it worked. A stronger sauce would detract from the flavor of the cheese, which would be counter-productive. If you’re going to eat a bowl of carbs with that much cheese, tasting the cheese is the whole point.Panera PestoOne beef I had with the pesto sacchettini was the price structure of the small versus large sizes. The small bowl, which holds 7.25 ounces of pasta, is $8.49, while the large is just $1.50 more, but twice the size (14.5 ounces). It’s great news if you were already going to order a large, but I couldn’t help but feel like I was getting ripped off for wanting a more reasonable portion (the large, by comparison, has 930 calories and 52 grams of fat — way too much for lunch). If the small is half the size of the large, pricing it somewhere closer to half of the price only seems fair. That’s unlikely to happen, so the lesson here is just go for the larger size and split it, or plan on taking half of it home.

Pros: Tastes great, high quality, filling.

Cons: The small size seems overpriced considering the large is just $1.50 more and twice as large. The dish is fairly high in fat (no real surprise since the pasta is stuffed and topped with cheese).

Taste: 8.75/10
Value: 6.00/20
Grubbing on-the-go: 5.00/10
Price: $8.49 (small), $9.99 (large)

Overall GrubGrade: 7.75/10

More Info: http://www.PaneraNutrition.com
Nutrition Facts:
(Small, 7.25 oz)
Calories: 460
Total Fat: 26 g
Saturated Fat: 7 g
Trans Fat: 0 g
Cholesterol: 45 mg
Sodium: 780 mg
Total Carbs: 43 g
Dietary Fiber: 5 g
Sugars: 0 g
Protein: 14 g

17 comments on “Review: Pesto Sacchettini from Panera Bread

  1. Bj says:

    That does sound delicious, but the price points really are off. I would have to get the large size and eat half for a later meal, just to justify it. The button on my jeans really doesn’t want me to do that.

  2. daniel n says:

    Sounds good. When this was first announced I really wanted to try but then I read all the negative reviews. This is the first positive review I’ve seen of Panera’s new pastas.

  3. Jonathan Wayne says:

    $10 for something with no meat? Ha Ha Ha, this is for suckers. Panera is out of their mind.

  4. Scrape says:

    $8.49? Really? That is way too much for what you get. A little bowl of pasta which is the size of a side from a chain such as Panera should be around $5. No more. I guess there still is a good reason why I haven’t been to Panera in about 2 years.

    • Sascha says:

      For 14.5 oz. of food, $8.49 is more than reasonable. Now, whether the small is reasonably priced can be argued, but that’s a good price for the large.

      • Rondo man says:

        But $8.49 is the price of the small buddy.

      • Scrape says:

        The $8.49 is for the small size which is 7.25 oz. The large size 14.5 is 9.99, which is obscene for non-full serve pasta. For not too much more, you can suffer through Olive Garden and get unlimited salad and breadsticks, too! Go to your local mom and pop classic red sauce place and you’ll make out even better and actually have good quality Italian food.

    • Will Buckingham says:

      Everyone seems to somehow miss that the $8.49 price point is NOT just the pasta. It’s also includes either a 1/2 salad or cup of soup, plus the standard Panera side of bread, chips, or apple. While the small to large price ratio is a bit off (I would say more like by $1.50-2.00), the price is very close to what you’d pay for a Pick Two combo, and has a similar amount of food when looked at as a package and not just the standalone pasta.

  5. rondoman says:

    Wow! Horribly overpriced. I wonder what the profit margin is on this.

  6. Bryan says:

    Honestly, there can’t be THAT many people who will pay 8.50 for a small order of pasta at a place like Panera. And the fact that a large is ten dollars, would turn people off even more. What were they thinking when they set those prices? I don’t care how good it is, that’s crazy money

  7. Hunter-m3 says:

    Get ahold of yourselves…the price is not that high for a full lunch, including the pasta, salad/soup and chips/apple/bread.

    • Bryan says:

      Haha I feel dumb, then. I didn’t realize it came with salad and a piece of bread. Maybe next time I should actually read the article.

  8. Jess says:

    $10 for 2 servings of pasta, a damn good side salad and hunk of fresh bread is too much for people?

    Next time I’m near my local one I’m trying this out.

  9. Kayla says:

    I recently tried the pesto pasta for the first time. I wasn’t a fan of it. It honestly tasted like a microwavable frozen meal like Lean Cuisine. It didn’t taste freshly cooked at all. Not impressed. The photo of it on the menu has it looking delicious. Maybe I just got it on a bad day

  10. Renee says:

    The first time I tried the Pesto Sacchettini, I got the small portion with a salad. It was delicious and filling. I do the salad as an aid to quickly digest all that cheesy, pasta goodness. The second time I ran in and got the large portion in a take out because they were about to close. When I got home, boy was I floored. The cashier either messed up my order or someone forgot the full portion. It was gone in two bites. Looked at my receipt, it said small. This was smaller than small.

    Panera get your prices and portions together. I feel ripped-off!

  11. Heidi D says:

    Holy amazing, that was delicious! Your review was spot-on! The price is a little ridiculous in regards to the size, but $8 for a you pick 2 isn’t bad!

  12. JT says:

    I ordered a Greek Salad with Chicken to go, and when I got home, there was no chicken. I called the number on my receipt, and was answered by an eardrum splitting fax machine. I e-mailed Panera’s customer service, and was told that their Franchise “appropriate representatives” would be “eager” to address their mistake. 5 days later I’ve heard nothing. My experience with the Pasadena TX store #4100, only shows that Panera, at the corporate and franchise level, is comfortable with cheating the general public. The focus on the customer is lame.

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