Thursday, June 13, 2024

The Cheesemonger’s Shop owner to open Italian sandwich shop


LEAVENWORTH –  The Cheesemonger’s Shop owner John Pistoresi is set to open Pesto’s La Panineria, a new Italian sandwich shop, in the former location of Viadolce Gelato, this June.

The shop will offer fresh, ready-to-go sandwiches and paninis, pasta and antipasto sides, and an array of Italian drinks and snacks.  

Pesto’s will have a variety of spreads to customize the sandwich, such as a parmesan sauce, pistachio spread, or balsamic glaze. Many of the spreads will be from Pistoresi’s family recipes.

“Most of them came from my Nonna, which is “grandma” in Italian. Her nickname was Pesto Mary, because she'd make pesto in little Gerber jars and pass them out throughout the neighborhood,” said Pistoresi.

While Italian meats and cheeses will be imported, such as aged prosciutto or smoked mozzarella, Pistoresi plans to locally source as many ingredients as he can. The focaccia and ciabatta breads will be sourced from Bosket Bread. Vegetables such as tomatoes, arugula and sprouts will come from local farmers, seasonally permitting.

The idea for the shop came about last year, when Dawn Mecham, COO of Visconti’s Hospitality Group, approached Pistoresi about taking over the space.

“We just have always really enjoyed working with him. His standard of quality is something that we respect and wanted in our space, and [he’s] someone who knew the business and what they wanted to do, and knew [he would] work it to be successful,” said Mecham.

Pistoresi was excited about launching something new, and was even considering having his cousin, who owns a gelateria in Italy, help him reopen a gelato shop. However, during the busy holiday weekends, Pistoresi was recognizing a greater need in downtown,

“People were absolutely starving. They couldn't get a place to sit, couldn't get a place to even get on the list before they closed, and they'd come back into The Cheesemonger’s Shop and buy chunks of cheese and boxes of crackers and whatever else that they were interested in and eat it. They’d eat a chunk of cheese like an apple, with no utensils or anything,” said Pistoresi.

Pistoresi decided to open something similar to the places he saw in Italy, where people could quickly get something fresh, without a long wait or reservation.

“They have pre-made sandwiches all over and you just pick in the window, and say “I'll have that one,” and you take it. You have the option to sit down or you have the option to take it and eat it while you're walking, or find a park bench, or the steps of the gazebo,” said Pistoresi.

As the shop settles in, Pistoresi plans to expand Pesto’s offerings, such as cannolis with homemade cream and breakfast-style paninis. Eventually, he plans to bring gelato back to the space.

“He's done such a great job with the Cheesemonger, I know that he'll just continue to do a great job with this space as well,” said Mecham.

Pesto’s La Panineria is located at 636 Front Street, Suite D. It plans to be open from 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. with the option to stay later on busy days, inventory willing. Its tentative opening date is June 13.

Taylor Caldwell: 509-433-7276 or


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