Where? - Level 1, Highpoint Shopping Centre, Maribyrnong.
Price? - $22.90
Reviewers – Lee, & Nikki
I'm pretty sure its safe to say that La Porchetta needs no introduction. With over forty locations around the country it's safe to say that everyone reading this has at least seen a La Porchetta at some stage in their lives.
We avoided it for many years, but in my heart of hearts I knew that one day reviewing La Porchetta's parma offering was inevitable.
If you've been living under a rock, or in a cave, or on the moon for the last 20 years, La Porchetta is basically the McDonalds of Italian Restaurants (and I don't mean that as an insult, I love Maccas), It's a restaurant where you know the menu will be the same, the decor will be the same and the food will be the same at any of their locations, So I think we say that the food we experienced at our review of the Highpoint Shopping Centre La Porchetta is more or less what you will experience at any other La Porchetta location.
Partly because it was close to home, partly because I also needed to pick up a new pair of shoes for GABS this weekend, we chose Highpoint. Located on Level 1 in between a Pancake Parlour and a New York Minute burger joint, La Porchetta has been at Highpoint for quite a while, and has recently undergone some minor renovations, adding a selection of comfy looking booths down the middle of the seating area. Apologies that the photo above isn't quite up to date, its the most recent one I could find.
We arrived at La Porchetta much earlier than our usual 7pm start and was surprised to find the place was already filling up with patrons fortifying themselves for a night of Thursday late night shopping with a selection of mozzarella covered treats. We took our seats, checked the menu -
And placed our order.
No tapped beer at La Porchetta unfortunately (although they did have a tap for Coke, oddly enough). The beer list was limited to a selection of stubbies. Peroni, VB, Corona. Just the basics here.
After a surprisingly short wait (15 minutes max) our parmas arrived from the kitchen
Lets be honest here, that is one ugly parma. A parma and chips on a plate without a salad never photographs well. Looks aside this thing was a behemoth. A massive schnitzel on a massive plate. We tucked in.
To be honest, I was expecting a lot worse. I was expecting a schnitzel that looked as if it had come straight from the deli window at the Coles the next floor up - Imagine my surprise when I was greeting with real chicken breast!
Other than its size and the fact that it wasn't an oversized chicken nugget, there were a few missteps with the La Porchetta schnitzel that hindered the experience a little - First of all the chicken was quite dry. The schnitzel was overcooked and there were quite a few burnt spots on the bottom of the crumbing (although points to them for pan frying instead of chucking them in the deep fryer)
It was acceptable, but a little bland.
Now to the toppings. Cheese and napoli, No ham in sight, a move I thought odd for a pizza joint, as 83% of the business of a pizza place revolves around the use of shredded ham, I'm sure the've got metric tonnes of the stuff out the back.
Good cheese coverage, especially for such a large parma. It was grilled well but as a mozzarella-only affair it lacked the punch a proper cheese blend would provide.
The napoli was fine, good amount but it was a little sweet for my liking, I don't like sugary napoli, but it may be fine for others.
I don't like fries. I know I compared La Porchetta to McDonalds at the start of this review but this is taking it too far. Give me a solid steak chip any day. As far as fries go they were okay. Could have used some salt. The sauce pot for dipping was appreciated, however.
When ordering we were given the choice of chips or salad. Nobody in their right mind would ever choose salad over chips, so we are invoking the You don't win friends with salad rule for this review.
Value is a tough one here. $22.90 is damn pricey, however this parma was freakin' huge. For the price there is no way in hell you're walking away hungry. At the same time the ingredient quality wasn't the best we've seen, and if you're a quality-over-quantity type of person this is a parma that might fall short.
All in all the La Porchetta parma was better than I expected, but far from greatness. It reminded me of a (much bigger) parma you would make in your own kitchen. The flavours gave off a very home-style vibe. If you're after a hefty feed at an acceptable price then having a La Porchetta on every corner isn't the worst thing in the world.
How would I improve it? It's a pizza place, your schnitzels are the size of small pizzas - La Porchetta needs to embrace that and pizzafy the hell out of their parmas. Add shredded ham, add salami, hell take their entire pizza menu and as "parma" as an option for the base, They've got all the ingredients in the kitchen already, time to put them to good use.