Bring a large pot of water to a boil and season generously with salt. Boil the pasta until al dente, tender but still firm.
While the pasta cooks, make the clam sauce. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and cook until soft but not brown, about 3 minutes. Add the pepper flakes and cook for 30 seconds more. Add the wine and water and increase the heat to high. Add the clams, cover, and cook, gently shaking the pan periodically, until all the clams are opened, about 6 to 8 minutes.
Drain the pasta and transfer to a large serving bowl. Add butter or extra-virgin olive oil, if desired. Pour the clam sauce over the pasta, scatter with the parsley and toss. Season with salt, to taste. Divide among heated bowls and serve immediately, garnished with Fried Zucchini Coins.
Fried Zucchini Coins
Line a dish with paper towels and set aside. Whisk the cornmeal, flour, basil, salt, cayenne, and pepper in a bowl.
Beat the eggs in another bowl.
Heat 1/4-inch vegetable oil in a skillet over medium heat until hot but not smoking.
Working in small batches, toss the zucchini coins in the eggs, then coat in the cornmeal mixture to cover completely. Carefully drop the zucchini into the oil, and fry until golden brown, about 2 minutes on each side or until crisp. Remove from the oil with a slotted spoon and place on the prepared plate. Season with salt, cool slightly and serve.