I am an Australian freelance writer living in Adelaide.
Published November 2nd 2011
If you love a good parma, forget your local pub and head to Mrs Parma's for the best parmigiana, not only in Melbourne, but in the world.
Hidden down a laneway in the China-end of town, if you happened to stroll past, you wouldn't think anything of the place. However, turn up without a booking on a Friday or Saturday night and you'll be walking out as quickly as you walked in. It is booked out weekly and there's a very good reason for this. It's the kind of place that gets out through word-of-mouth between friends and groups, who bring their parma-virgin and parma-seasoned friends. During the day or lunch time is where you'll more likely see couples dining.
Now don't come here expecting to pay $10 for a pot and parma. Each parma costs around $20 but you pay for quality and quantity. Your parma is the size of a dinner plate as this place's philosophy is that a parma should be bigger than your head and that it's not right to serve it on chips as that makes the chips soggy. So what Mrs Parma does is serve you your schnitzel and brings out chips and salad for the table to share. Finally, what sets Mrs Parma's apart is the toppings you can have on your parma. Sure you're going to have napoli sauce and mozzarella cheese on top of your crumbed veal, chicken or eggplant but you can choose from a dozen toppings as well.
We've tried nearly all of them. The Bruschetta has melted bocconcini, blistered cherry tomatoes and olive tapenade. The Parma'geddon is "Melbourne's tastiest and hottest parma" but my boyfriend easily handled the chilli and wanted more of it. The Mexican is delicious with tomato salsa, sour cream, guacamole and jalapenos but my favourite is the Bolognese on an eggplant parma. I'm not vegetarian (well obviously not if I'm having bolognase sauce) but I did have a minor run-in with the possibility of having coeliac disease which was why I initially tried it (minus the bolognese sauce). The thin but large slice of eggplant simply melts in your mouth and you feel as though you're not being quite so naughty by having some vegetables.
While the amount of chips isn't what you're used to as they're normally piled on the plate, what you get is definitely sufficient given the size of your parma. I used to go halves with a friend but now I just make sure I skip lunch so I am ravenous to eat all of it nowdays. Each chip is delicious, sprinkled with chicken salt and they're thick and crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside. If you've brought along some friends who aren't so keen on the parma, there's also bistro meals to choose from. These include delicious salads of chorizo, tandoori chicken, Caesar or warm roasted pumpkin, a chicken burger, a T-bone steak, fish and chips or prawn spaghetti.
Mrs Parma's has also made a name for its range of beers on offer. They support microbreweries so you'll always be able to discover a new taste whilst supporting local businesses. Beer not your thing? There's white, red and sparkling wine or cider's to wash your meal down with.
Next time you crave quality food, grab a group of friends and head to Mrs Parma's. You will not be disappointed and if you live interstate like us, will see nothing weird about dining there for three meals over three days.