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Spaghetti: Beyond Bolognese

March 11, 1999

It used to be served with meatballs. These days, just about anything goes on this most famous of pastas.

* Il Pastaio: Spelt (farro) is an ancient cousin of modern durum wheat. It makes a flavorful, pleasurably chewy pale brown spaghetti. To showcase its virtues, this unusual pasta is dressed simply with fresh ricotta, lemon juice and lemon zest. (Spelt spaghetti, $11.50.) Il Pastaio, 400 N. Can~on Drive, Beverly Hills; (310) 205-5443.

* Cicada: At lunch, try spaghetti all'Emiliana con lenticchie, rucola e gamberi: spaghetti with Italian lentils, arugula and rock shrimp, plus a bit of olive oil and garlic. At dinner, fresh spaghetti is topped with salmon and broccoflower in a light caviar cream sauce--surely this humble pasta has never had it so good. (Spaghetti, $15 to $18.) Cicada, 617 S. Olive St., Los Angeles; (323) 655-5559.

* Tanino: Spaghetti al nero di seppie e seppioline is spaghetti with a black sauce of baby squid and squid ink, flavored with a touch of curry. It's a surprise hit at this new Westwood Italian restaurant. (Spaghetti, $14.50.) Tanino, 1043 Westwood Blvd., Los Angeles; (310) 208-0444.

* Drago: Chef Celestino Drago gives spaghetti traditional Sicilian treatments: spaghetti alla bottarga (garlic, olive oil and cured tuna roe) and the classic spaghetti with fresh sardines and wild fennel. He also prepares spaghetti al cartoccio, spaghetti with seafood cooked en papillotte. (Spaghetti, $13 to $16; al cartoccio for two, $30.) Drago, 2628 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica; (310) 828-1585.

* Da Pasquale: Chef Anna Morra makes the best spaghetti agli olio in town. Every bite of this simple dish (dressed with garlic, hot peppers, parsley and oil) is more delicious and intense. Also look for her spaghetti with seafood in a red sauce and spaghetti specials such as spaghetti with fresh artichokes or rapini (a compellingly bitter broccoli relative). (Spaghetti, $7.75 to $12.95.) Da Pasquale, 9749 Little Santa Monica Blvd., Beverly Hills; (310) 859-3884.

* Il Moro: The spaghetti alla carrettiera here is a hearty dish of spaghetti topped with porcini mushrooms, chicken sausage, green olives, sliced onions and a ragout of veal and chicken in light tomato sauce. (Spaghetti, $10.95.) Il Moro, 11400 W. Olympic Blvd., West Los Angeles; (310) 575-3530.

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