This is part of an ongoing series highlighting Signature Dishes at locally owned restaurants in the region. See Trib Total Media’s new online directory of restaurants, Dine Local, at dinelocal.triblive.com.
It only takes minutes for Jim Bosco to whip up what quickly has become a signature dish at Major Stokes, his restaurant in Greensburg.
The ahi tuna poke bowl was created as a direct result of the covid-19 pandemic and grew into a dish that keeps people coming back for more.
The poke bowl is filled with cucumbers, tomatoes and jalapeno peppers often grown in a garden behind the restaurant. The veggies are mixed with avocado pieces, Asian rice noodles and a housemade teriyaki sauce. The dish is topped off with a heaping pile of ahi tuna, housemade spicy chipotle mayo and toasted sesame seeds.
“People love it,” Bosco said. “They come back for it, they order it again and again.”
The dish was created early last year when restaurants were forced to close their doors to indoor diners as the pandemic took hold. At that time, Bosco looked at his menu and started removing dishes that were not delivery-friendly, while adding new ones he hoped his customers would enjoy.
Today, the pickup and delivery menu is filled with variations of melt sandwiches, salads and tacos.
Bosco noted, however, that he is preparing to reveal a new menu — his fourth in just about two years — that he hopes encompasses the wants of his Greensburg customer base.
“I think our newest menu, I hope, sticks for a couple years,” Bosco said. “We’ve learned a little bit; we’ve learned what Greensburg likes.”
Despite the menu changes, the ahi tuna poke bowl is not going anywhere.
“That would be one item I couldn’t take off the menu without getting some blowback from the guests,” Bosco said.
The dish, Bosco said, gained popularity because it is not often seen on menus in Western Pennsylvania, which often feature items like a Pittsburgh steak salad or calzones.
That uniqueness also is reflected in the restaurant itself. Bosco opened Major Stokes in late 2018 following a two-year renovation to restore the structure, built in 1895, to its historic roots. Today, original oak flooring lines the restaurant space, and an original brick wall separates the bar from the restaurant.
The building, once the former home of U.S. Sen. Edgar Cowan, was Greensburg’s first hospital. The name of the restaurant also is a reflection of Greensburg history: Maj. William Axon Stokes was a private attorney in Greensburg known for his hospitality. A Union officer in the Civil War, he lived in a mansion that later became part of Seton Hill University — where Bosco teaches in the hospitality and tourism program.
The restaurant, built on principles of sustainability from the start, does not use a freezer, fryer or microwave. The Sustainable Pittsburgh Restaurant organization has given Major Stokes its Gold level rating.
“We’re eclectic, so you can’t pigeonhole us into an Italian restaurant or bar food or comfort food or Asian food, although that dish is Asian,” Bosco said. “Everything on the menu is unique genre, just like the decor in the restaurant. We like to say we’re deliciously different.”
The poke bowl sells for $12 at lunch and $14 for a dinner portion.
Major Stokes (majorstokes.com) at 108 W. Pittsburgh St. in Greensburg, is closed Mondays and Tuesdays. It is open from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 5 to 9 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays, 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and 5 to 11 p.m. Fridays, 5 to 11 p.m. Saturdays and from noon to 6 p.m. Sundays.
Megan Tomasic is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Megan at 724-850-1203, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter .