It seems perhaps the easiest of dishes to make, yet a plate of spaghetti with a tomato and basil sauce is, like all simple dishes, not a question of degrees of difficulty, but of refinement and attention to detail. When made perfectly, the tomatoes are ripe and sweet as candy, the basil as fragrant as summer itself, the olive oil green-gold and full of sunniness, and the pasta of the highest quality, cooked so that its own flavor and texture are as delectable as the sauce. A textbook example of how it should be made is chef Odette Fada’s rendition at the deluxe San Domenico (240 Central Park S., New York; 212-265-5959), where simplicity is, as Leonardo da Vinci noted, the “ultimate sophistication.”

Other restaurants where you’ll find great spaghetti with tomato and basil:
Boston: PIGNOLI, 79 Park Plaza; (617) 338-7500
Chicago: SPIAGGIA CAFE, 980 N. Michigan Ave.; (312) 280-2750
Providence, Rhode Island: WALTER'S/AQUAVIVA, 286 Atwells Ave.; (401) 273-2652
Sherman Oaks, California: POSTO, 14928 Ventura Blvd.; (818) 784-4400
Washington, D.C.: TEATRO GOLDONI, 1909 K St.; (202) 955-9494