There’s no one classic way to make linguini with clam sauce, except to use the finest ingredients possible and to respect the traditions of the dish, which comes from Naples and the Amalfi coast, where the true vongole veraci clams are found — tiny, sweet, and tender. In the U.S., Manila clams do the job, but littlenecks or anything larger than a nubbin ruins the delicacy of the dish. If you want to sample the very best, head for Patsy’s (236 W. 56th St.; 212-247-3491) in New York’s Theater District — and ask them to make their linguine with red clam sauce the way they did for their best customer — the late Mr. Sinatra.

some other places where you’ll get a good reading on the dish:

chicago: italian village
71 w. monroe st.; (312) 332-7005

houston: grotto
3920 westheimer road; (713) 622-3663

miami: il tulipano
11052 biscayne blvd.; (305) 893-4811

providence: capriccio
2 pine st.; (401) 421-1320

san francisco: fior d’italia
601 union st.; (415) 986-1886