Pub fare doesn’t get much more traditional than a faithful parmigiana covered in Napoli sauce, ham, and plenty of cheese. The parma is a pub classic that is not often tampered with, however some venues across Melbourne are getting a little bold with their toppings, and the results range from the bizarre to the truly terrific.
It’s time to think outside of the box, and experience Melbourne’s best loaded parmas.
This brilliant pub tucked away in Fitzroy’s backstreets may be most famous for its colossal Bogan Burger, but The Napier's parmas are not to be ignored. For something a little less ordinary, try their free-range chicken parmigiana with smoked roo (yes, as in kangaroo) instead of ham. Accompanied by shoestring fries and garden salad, this parma is for those looking for something new, without vastly straying from the original.
If it’s crazy parma toppings you’re after, you can’t really go past the insane selection at Mrs Parmas. They’ve got 10 varieties to choose from, plus daily specials for those who may have already worked their way through the menu. Their Parma’geddon is Melbourne’s hottest parma, using a homemade chili sauce that contains four different chilis and takes four days to make. Brace yourselves. Other toppings include everything from turmeric-spiced lentils to oven roasted field mushrooms.
Skinny Dog Hotel
Traditional pub grub is the order of business at Kew’s Skinny Dog Hotel, and they certainly do a bang-up job on the classics. Thursday night is parma night at The Skinny Dog Hotel, where you can choose from eight different parma toppings, and either have a half serve ($18) or for the ravenous, a full serve ($27). Our topping of choice is the Paw Licker, with chorizo, caramelized onion, napoli sauce, mozzarella cheese, and topped with chilli jam. Their Brett Lee parma with fried egg, bacon, BBQ sauce and mozzarella is also the closest thing we’ve seen to a breakfast parma.
The Union Club Fitzroy
Another excellent pub hidden in the backstreets of Fitzroy, The Union Club Hotel will have your parmigiana craving sorted in no time. For the purists there’s the traditional parmie, the eggplant parmie for our vegetarian pals, and finally the Mexican Chicken parmigiana for the adventurous. Panko-crumbed free-range chicken breast is topped with chili bean Napoli, jalapenos, Virginian leg ham, parmesan, and tasty cheese.
The Rose Hotel
Tuesdays are International Parma Night at The Rose, where you choose from five different international options. It comes with a pot of beer or glass of house wine all for $19 - so not only is it delicious, it’s a darn good deal. The Rose is about to change hands to Tom Hogan and John Tennent who own Port Melbourne's Harry & Frankie – and although most of the changes will occur with the upstairs section of The Rose, if it’s a loaded parma you’re after you’d better to drop by sooner rather than later, just in case.
The Imperial Hotel (South Yarra)
Fact: People watching on Chapel Street is always ten-times better with a pint and a parma. Wednesdays are the night to go for loaded parmas, where you can choose from a traditional, Aussie or Mexican parma with chips or salad for $15. This meal deal is available all day, so if you find yourself craving a parma on your lunch break, now you have options.
The Woodlands Hotel
This Coburg gastro pub likes to pile their parmas high. The parma sits on a bed of chips, and the salad is arranged on top of the parma. The structure of this parma is to encourage diners to eat the salad with the chicken, as opposed to pushing it to the side - which is common practice amongst the ‘obligatory salad’ believers. Admit it, we all know one. Prosciutto and taleggio cheese are a nice Italian-influenced point of difference here too. Unfortunately, we have just been notified that The Woodlands Hotel kitchen is closed ‘until further notice’, but there’s no need to panic, they’ll reopen the kitchen once they’ve sorted out their issues, and in the meantime the bar remains in full swing.
The Lord Newry Hotel
At first glance, the parma at the Lord Newry Hotel may not appear to be anything out of the ordinary, as it seems all of the usual suspects are in play: Juicy chicken, Napoli sauce, leg ham, parmesan cheese, chips and salad. However, look a little closer and you’ll see (and taste) that this Napoli is not like the others - that’s because it’s Virgin Mary Napoli sauce. Yep, like the breakfast cocktail. Tomato / celery / tobacco sauce comes together to add a surprising kick to traditional pub fare.
If you like the sound of a parma but don’t want to fall into a food coma straight after consumption, we recommend Palookaville’s Chicken Parma-ish. It’s so popular that it is the first item listed on their dinner menu, and at $12 it’s a steal.
Free-range chicken breast is topped with pancetta, mozzerella, fresh tomato salsa (as opposed to a runnier Napoli sauce), roquette and parmesan. All this sits on a bed of hand cut chips.
The Hotel Albion
Wednesdays is Parma Night at Port Melbourne’s Hotel Albion, and there’s a lot of fun to be had for parma aficionados. Firstly, what could be more of a loaded parma than two parmas stacked on top of each other? The Double Parma Challenge is a Wednesday night event that few can get through, but if you like to push your parma-eating abilities, here’s your chance. There is also a choice of 14 different parma toppings on a Wednesday, so start working your way through them now.
Want more pub meals this summer? Check out the 50 best pub meals in Melbourne!
Image credit: Skinny Dog Hotel Facebook