BATAVIA â Beef on weck is the quintessential sandwich of Western New York, so it makes sense that it is also the signature dish of Bataviaâs most recognizable restaurant, the Pok-A-Dot. Itâs one icon serving up another.
Although the Pok-A-Dot, 229 Ellicott St., started as a hot dog stand, the beef on weck has been its claim to fame for six decades. And it all started in the kitchen of co-founder Phil Pastore and his wife, Leona.
âWe tried it out at home first,â Leona said Thursday at the restaurant. âLittle by little, it caught on. Then it was popular.â
It sure is. Manager Joanne Cox said the restaurant will âeasilyâ serve 100 of the sandwiches on a busy day. That means she and the staff need to slow-roast two slabs of top round â each weighs 25-30 pounds â every day.
Phil Pastore believes the reason the Pok-A-Dotâs beef on weck is better than any other is the way it is cooked and the seasoning blend used on the meat. Both are secrets that the 90-year-old, his wife, and the restaurant employees arenât going to divulge any time soon.
âWe cook it differently than anybody else. Iâm sure of that,â Phil said. âWe use three or four different spices that give it a lot of flavor.â
âAnd weâre not going to tell you what that is,â Leona chimed in.
Cox claimed to not know the secret, but then wryly said âWe make it with love.â
The sandwich is prepared exactly the same way it has been for the past 62 years and remains the eateryâs top seller.
Beef on weck is relatively simple dish. Itâs just thin slices of slow-cooked roast beef piled on a kummelweck roll. At Pok-A-Dot, the roll is grilled on the flat top then dipped in au jus. And if you ask any of the regulars sitting around the counter, there is only one way to eat it ... with horseradish.
Itâs definitely a messy meal, which is part of its appeal.
âItâs sloppy,â Cox said, pointing out the need for extra napkins. âThe more it runs down your arm, the better it is.â
While the beef on weck at Pok-A-Dot comes alone on a plate â Itâs not even accompanied by a pickle â it is best accompanied by another of the restaurantâs staples, french fries in gravy.
âNow, youâre eating the works,â Phil said.
The beef on weck sells for $4.65.