1 September 2023

Who does the best chicken parmi in Wagga?

| Jarryd Rowley
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Chicken parmigiana

With more than 30 pubs, clubs and restaurants in Wagga offering chicken parmigiana, Region has done its best to handpick the best four. Photo: Jarryd Rowley.

There is frequent conversation and commentary over the best way to abbreviate the name of the culinary king of the Australian pub, the chicken parmigiana.

Whether you were born in NSW, and correctly pronounce it as ‘parmi’, or you were born in Victoria and utter the wrong, un-Australian ‘parma’, one thing can be agreed on – parmis are elite!

A perfectly crumbed chicken schnitty topped with homemade marinara sauce, a little bit of smoked ham and the finishing touch of lightly melted cheese on top just can’t be beaten.

I have tried more than a few parmigianas in my time – from famous restaurants in Melbourne to empty pubs in the outback of South Australia, social clubs in the ACT and even an airport in Brisbane.

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Many have been good, some have been bad, but only a handful have been perfect!

Fortunately for the people of Wagga, there is no shortage of brilliant pubs, clubs and restaurants that offer these simple yet delicious delicacies.

Since relocating back to NSW the first parmi that I tried was at the Kooringal Hotel and I must say it was an absolute doozy!

In terms of sheer size, the Kooringal Hotel’s parmi may be the best on this list.

The Kooringal Hotel's parmi is unmatched in terms of size

The Kooringal Hotel’s parmi is unmatched in terms of size. Photo: Kooringal Hotel.

I have had three since moving back and each has been the size of my head. Their sauce is second to none and they strike a great balance with the chicken-to-cheese ratio.

Head chef of the Kooringal Hotel, Ryan Dedini, said a homemade feel was what separated his parmi from the rest.

“We do our own panko crumb with the chicken covered in buttermilk compared to a more conventional egg wash that you would see elsewhere,” Mr Dedini said.

“We also intentionally make our sauces with fresh tomatoes and spices; it creates a fantastic taste you can’t get from a tin.”

Besides the taste of the parmi, the environment in which it is consumed also plays a key factor in how the customer remembers the experience.

Eating a delicious parmi in a dead or uninspired club can almost make the experience feel like a chore. That’s why the Union Hotel may be the best place to enjoy the Italian-inspired cuisine.

The Schnitty Committee Podcast gave its seal of approval to the Union Hotel in 2020

The Schnitty Committee Podcast gave its seal of approval to the Union Hotel in 2020. Photo: Schnitty Committee Podcast.

At the Union there is always music blaring, live performances to enjoy, people to catch up with and TVs galore to enjoy your choice of sport. Combine all of that with the $12 schnitty and parmi night on Mondays and Tuesdays and you have the best value for money parmi in Wagga.

Don’t believe me? Take a step inside and ask to look at the plaque handed to them by the Schitty Committee podcast in 2020, declaring theirs the best schnitzel in NSW, narrowly beating the previously mentioned Kooringal Hotel.

Another factor that determines a high-quality parmi is variety.

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Sometimes a bit of bacon, avocado or pineapple is needed to provide a bit of flair.

Flair is something The Romano’s Hotel has in spades according to bar attendant Eli Honner, who believes Rom’s may just have the best options in town. In my experience, he isn’t wrong.

“We offer great quality parmis, or parmas,” Eli said.

“With variations which range from a basic parmi to an A-B-C which include avocado and bacon which has been a crowd favourite for ages.

Romano’s kitchen hand Ben Triffet, chef Beau Heffernan and kitchen hand Darren Cooper believe the sheppard’s parmi is the best in town. Photo: Jarryd Rowley.

“We now have shepherd’s parmi which has been an instant hit; it takes the combo of a shepherd’s pie and a parmi served with the choice of two great sides and a sauce.

“I think with great chefs and great service combined, Rom’s has the best parmi in Wagga.”

In researching the best place for a parmi, Region asked around 50 people for their opinions, and one answer, aside from the three previously mentioned, stood above the rest.

The Farmers Home Hotel.

According to schnitzel enthusiast Sebastian Schutte, the Farmers is the place to go when it comes to parmis.

“My go-to is the Farmers,” Sebastian said.

“For me, they always have good quality food, good portion sizes and better tasting gravy than nearly every other place in Wagga.”

Whether it be the Kooringal Hotel, The Union, Romano’s or the Farmer’s Home there is no shortage of places in Wagga to enjoy Australia’s best pub meal.

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