Panera’s flat flatbread pizza

Panera officially started serving flatbread pizza on Oct. 28, so being the avid food lovers (and critics) we are, we had to try them. The flatbread pizzas come in three flavors: Margherita, Chipotle Chicken and Bacon and cheese. The Margherita consists of fresh mozzarella, fontina mozzarella cheese blend, basil, red grape tomatoes and tomato sauce, and costs $9.29 in Massachusetts. The Chipotle Chicken and Bacon consists of fontina mozzarella cheese blend, cilantro, red grape tomatoes, garlic cream sauce, chipotle aioli, smoked pulled chicken and chopped bacon, and will cost you $9.29 in Massachusetts. The cheese consists of fontina mozzarella cheese blend and tomato sauce, and will cost you $8.19 in Massachusetts. We only tried the Margherita, and since we were still hungry after it, we also tried two of their new sandwiches: the Smokehouse BBQ Chicken Sandwich and the Teriyaki Sandwich, which will cost you $8.19 and $9.79, respectively. 

As a general trend, food at Panera is good, but a little bland. Portions are also too small given what you pay for them. This applies to both the pizza and the sandwiches and, honestly, to most other food we have had at Panera over the years. 

The Panera flatbread pizzas are everything Domino’s is not. It had very sophisticated flavors in the pizza, and it was not too greasy (which we appreciated). The tomatoes and basil added a very nice flavor, but the basil was not equally distributed throughout the pizza (which John is bitter about because he did not get the half with a lot of basil). Something that we thought was weird was that the basil was chopped up and not whole leaves; if you are served fresh basil on pizza, typically, it is the whole leaf. We also wished the pizza had more tomato sauce; it tasted really good, but there was just simply not enough of it. The crust deserves a special mention: It was more than just a base, it added great undertones of flavor to the pizza. 

The crust was Sasha’s favorite part of the pizza. However, the Margherita was initially kind of underwhelming, given the price of the pizza: We were shocked when we saw the small box that the pizza was in. We expected more pizza; we finished it in a few minutes and were left wanting more. Thankfully, we had decided to eat it in the car, while it was still fresh, so Panera was right there when we realized that we were still hungry.  Overall, the pizza was quite good; however, we do not know if we will be getting it again or not. 

The Teriyaki Chicken Sandwich is made from ciabatta, with pickled red onions, diced cucumbers, emerald greens, teriyaki sauce, chicken, mayo and cilantro. It was a good sandwich. It tasted nothing like Teriyaki sauce (maybe they forgot to add it?), but it was still a sandwich we would eat again. Just like with most other Panera dishes, the sandwich was not worth what we paid for it. It tasted fresh, and you could tell that the vegetables were fresh, but it really does not have enough “meat” to it to actually make you full. The flavor combination worked well; however, just the thought of mayo and teriyaki sauce together makes us uneasy, so we continue to hope that they just forgot to add the teriyaki sauce. Overall, it was not a teriyaki sandwich and was overpriced; however, it was a good sandwich. 

The Smokehouse BBQ Chicken Sandwich was actually a pretty simple sandwich: It is made of smoked, pulled chicken, white cheddar, onions, BBQ sauce and white bread. In our opinion, it has very similar pros and cons to many of Panera’s other dishes. While it had a sophisticated and advanced flavor to it, and did not taste incredibly greasy, it was not too tasty. In all honesty, it kinds of tasted like a fancy version of a BBQ chicken sandwich but with less seasoning and less flavor. Although the ingredients tasted fresh, there was a flavor or taste that was missing that left me unsatisfied. Additionally, even after eating the sandwich and chips, we were left feeling hungry. This is definitely not the kind of satisfaction that we would expect from an $8.19 sandwich, and with that being said, in the future we plan on taking our money elsewhere. Speaking of the chips that came with the sandwich, they were definitely tasty and were reminiscent of Cape Cod potato chips, which are John’s favorite kind of potato chips!

We cannot say that we were too surprised about the result of our visit: The food was fresh and good, but not really worth the price. The flatbread pizza is nice when you are craving pizza but do not want or cannot have greasy food. Or just when you want “fancy” pizza. The sandwiches definitely had unique flavors, like most other foods at Panera. Those are definitely worth at least a try.  

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