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Leonardi: Green Shutters comes through for graduation 'party'

Leonardi: Green Shutters comes through for graduation 'party'

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My wife has many talents. One of them is coming up with food combinations that I have never seen or heard of before. They are always delicious. We were planning a graduation party for our son Geoffrey, and Veronica had rented a pavilion in Fayetteville/Manlius large enough to host 150 or more people. But, alas! The pandemic spoiled those plans and the facility gave her no problem in returning a full refund for her deposit with a phone call to cancel.

For a while we were not going to have anything, but when the social distancing guidelines were given, we started to think about just family and Geoffrey’s closest friends. We came up with 30 to 40 people and realized we could probably get that to work. We approached brothers Seb and Rick Galbato, the new owners of Green Shutters, and they were more than gracious in letting us do it with a tent adjacent to the picnic area. Our plan was to allow them to be able to have full use of the picnic tables to take care of their regular customers and avoid their peak lunch and dinner hours. We submitted a limited menu from their house menu, which they kindly approved to make it easier for them, as well as for us, because I assumed the task of taking and placing the orders in batches of eight to 10 people so their kitchen would not be hit with 30 or 40 orders all at one time. It worked beautifully for them, as well as for us. All of their food is outstanding, and we knew our family and friends would love it. We scheduled our guests to come from 2 until 5 p.m. and since most arrived on a staggered time frame, it gave them 20 or 30 minutes to say hello to everyone and talk a little before they ate. In addition, it made social distancing easier.

Since Green Shutters was doing all the food and their menu items are so very reasonably priced, we did not have to do any cooking. But one of the items we were going to serve is my featured recipe for today. It is as simple as any dish I have ever prepared, and it is an original from my wife’s imagination that she came up with a year or two ago. It has become one of my favorite go-to snacks when I want something quick and light, but filling enough to carry me easily to dinner. This dish is it!

Salute and buon appetito!

Veronica’s corn chips with cheese

• Corn chips, a handful to cover a dinner-size plate

• 1 or 2 tomatoes

• 4 or 5 slices of provolone or Monterey Jack cheese

• A couple shakes of salt and pepper

Separate the chips and spread them out on the plate. Wash a tomato or two and dice in 1-inch or smaller size pieces. Lay the sliced cheese on top of all the chips and use more if desired to make sure all the chips are covered. Distribute the diced tomatoes on top so the cheese is evenly covered. I have a shaker mixed with about one part pepper to 10 parts salt, and I give the dish a shake or two over the tomatoes.

Place the dish in the microwave and time it for 45 seconds or 1 minute. Microwaves vary, so you may need to add or subtract 15 seconds or so until the cheese is fully melted on the chips. But it doesn’t take long.

Bob Leonardi was born and raised in Weedsport, but spent summers on Owasco Lake in Auburn. After graduating from St. Lawrence University, where he cooked for other students to earn extra money, he moved to Florida and started a fine wine and gourmet food store. In a matter of a few years he added a restaurant, upscale catering and event planning to his business, which he ran in Fort Lauderdale for 15 years. He bought and restored Green Shutters restaurant in 1999, running it for 12 years in the spring, summer and fall while being an event planner in the winter. During that time, he was also a food critic and wrote a column for a newspaper called the South Florida Social. He has written his column for The Citizen since 2005 and can be reached by contacting The Citizen or via email at


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