The Tucci Table
There used to be a restaurant at the Museum of Modern Art in New York called Sette Moma that overlooked the peaceful oasis of the sculpture garden. I would often go there to write, as they were kind enough to let me stay at a table for long periods of time and order very little. Without fail, I would have this dish. I loved the way they prepared it: with a touch of fresh tomato and peperoncini. The restaurant is gone now but the owner, Gianfranco Sorrentino, still has two wonderful restaurants in New York, Il Gattopardo on East 54th Street and The Leopard on West 67th, where this dish is still served.
Look for the small vongole (clams) at the fish market, as they are the sweetest. In England, they are known as Palourde or Poole clams.
First, clean the clams, discarding any with broken shells or that won’t close when you tap them. Place them in a large bowl of cold water with the cornmeal for about half an hour. Then drain and rinse to wash away any grit or sand.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the spaghetti according to the instructions on the package
Meanwhile, in a heavy-bottomed sauté pan, heat the olive oil over low heat. Add the garlic and the peperoncini, and cook until the garlic is fragrant but not colored. Raise the heat to medium and add the clams, shaking the pan and stirring to coat them in the oil and garlic.