At Gabrielle Hamilton’s East Village restaurant, Prune, every bar snack has a story. In the case of the flaming pistachios, it’s a love story. Back in her wanderlust days, the chef says, “I got waylaid in Turkey because I met a dude who was opening a restaurant.” One thing led to another — specifically, one night, to a Turkish disco, an experience that didn’t remotely resemble Studio 54. “It was sitting on couches, and there was a belly dancer and music and, of course, smoking,” says Hamilton. “But they had a lot of snacks,” including roast-your-own pistachios, served on a bed of salt and set ablaze. “They may have used Sterno,” says the chef, who’s opted instead for raki, the anise-flavored brandy. “One sells another,” she says, so as soon as an order is ignited, the whole dining room wants one. “We joke that when we vacuum, it’s all beer caps and pistachio shells now.”
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On the menu at Prune; $6; 54 E. 1st St., nr. First Ave.; 212-677-6221
*A version of this article appears in the October 17, 2016, issue of New York Magazine.