Ed Meyer is quick to cite the hallmarks of a great restaurant: an eclectic crowd, a memorable interior, sumptuous but recognizable food, and that feeling of being special. "There's nothing more destructive of a good meal than being abandoned halfway through," says the chairman, president, and CEO of New York marketing and advertising giant Grey Global Group (GREY ). As someone who has invested in several Manhattan restaurants, such as Smith & Wollensky and The Post House, he ought to know.
But Meyer does have some favorites among the competition, such as the three-year-old Fiamma Osteria in Manhattan's SoHo district. "It's Italian, and it's glorious!" says Meyer. He likes the feeling of privacy that comes from Fiamma's townhouse setting and what he describes as "fresh and clean Italian food." Among his favorites is the hand-rolled garganelli ($22), which is covered in a creamy sauce of Fan Daniele prosciutto, spring peas, and truffle butter. "It's the kind of dish you can't find anywhere else," he says. "I'm absolutely hooked on it." While Meyer normally avoids dessert, he also admits to being a sucker for the crocchette ($10), which are small amaretti and ricotta beignets (doughnuts) that come with a range of dipping sauces.
A self-described restaurant hound who eats out five nights a week, Meyer has a strong sense of what he's seeking in a meal. "I'm not looking to eat obscure parts of the animal," he says. "I like regulation cuts of meat prepared a little differently." And please give loyal customers a little respect. As Meyer puts it: "To be greeted like a stranger on your fifth visit is not something that creates an affectionate bond between me and the restaurant." Maitre d's, mind your manners.
Fiamma Osteria, 206 Spring St., New York, N.Y. (212 653-0100)
By Diane Brady