In an era when chefs become famous for their foie gras cotton candy, oxtail poutine or frog legs in begonia sauce, Scott Conant, the New York chef who just opened Scarpetta in Beverly Hills, may be best known for his $24 plate of spaghetti in tomato sauce, a dish that presumably even his most cuisine-impaired customers can make at home. And when you order his spaghetti with tomato sauce, you get spaghetti and tomato sauce, not truffled tagliatelle smothered in rare heirlooms or chitarra in a fennel-tomato confit -- although it is handmade spaghetti in what could be considered a great tomato sauce, texture just south of a puree, scented with fresh basil and beaten with a little parmesan cheese. Is it worth $24? That's between you and your accountant. But even in the dreary weeks of late autumn, when great tomatoes are as rare in the supermarket as fresh peaches, Conant's spaghetti is first-rate.
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