Pastitsio, the Greek lasagne, is the heart of a zesty meal.

The up-and-coming New York City decorator T. Keller Donovan has been attracting lots of attention with his bold colors and patterns. (He was born on the Fourth of July and his favorite combination is red, white and blue.) When FOOD & WINE asked him to design a setting for a pastitsio menu created by Grace Parisi, our test kitchen's recipe developer, he opted for solid-white dinner plates, red-and-white napkins and buffalo-plaid salad plates. Instead of putting the serving dishes on the dinner table, he pulled together odd side tables from around the apartment to create a makeshift buffet. "I actually prefer buffets," he says, "because passing around plates at a sit-down dinner is messy and unattractive." For this dinner he moved the sofa and several side chairs around a cube coffee table and turned stacks of magazines into wonderfully spontaneous place mats. He gathered a collection of white wooden candleholders of varying heights for a centerpiece and filled them with white candles. The casual setting and the shimmering light, he explained, "creates an intimate atmosphere among good friends."