Tag Archives: Jersey City

The Church Tony Soprano’s Grandfather Built

“See that church? Your great grandfather helped build that almost 80 years ago. He was a stonemason, the old man. Came over from Avellino with four dollars in his pocket.”

Tony Soprano

The camera pans down to show a beautiful church made of grey stone. Alongside it: a red Tahoe. A father wants to show his teenage son the family’s history.

I always loved this scene in season 4: the beautiful backdrop, the connection to the Italian immigrants that form my family and Tony’s, and AJ’s apathetic response to it all. So yesterday, I went in search of this venerable parish.

The church in season 4
How it looked yesterday

The church is in Newark in the series, but the real shooting location was St. Patrick’s Church in Jersey City, NJ. Completed in 1877, it was built largely by Irish, not Italian immigrants. But how it was built closely parallels Tony’s story:

Most families could contribute only pennies. But the men of the parish, most of them day laborers and unskilled workmen, contributed something perhaps more important, their raw labor, acquiring in the process a sweat equity in the great project and a commitment to its success beyond what religious fervor alone might have produced.

We see St. Patrick’s numerous times in the series: in the pilot, when Tony visits the church with Meadow, in seasons 3 and 4, and finally in season 6 when it is home to the Feast of St. Elzear. The zeppole stand, sausage vendors, and rides were lined up on Bramhall Avenue, alongside the church.

The beautiful garden in season 1
The church garden yesterday

Tony describes the neighborhood as “falling down to the ground,” and indeed I saw a number of condemned buildings. But nonetheless, I found myself wishing I could walk the Feast of St. Elzear with a bag of zeppoles in the shadow of this majestic church.

The Feast of St. Elzear, season 6
On the stairs, seen in season 3

Just don’t ride the teacup ride!

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The Real Barone Sanitation from The Sopranos

A German Shepherd barks viciously and strains at his chain. A red Tahoe pulls up to a a large industrial building. The sky is grey. A hulking man steps out.

This is Barone Sanitation, which featured prominently in The Sopranos as a front for Tony’s illicit interests. In one my favorite episodes from season 2, facing increasing police scrutiny, Tony decamps from Bada Bing to Barone to appear to be a legitimate businessman.

I love this episode because it shows this larger than life character suddenly thrust into the world most of the viewers inhabit: the bland corporate office. Tony struggles in this world as we would struggle in his, bored and spending his time drawing fish and making basketball pools.

I went in search of this iconic spot yesterday. Beginning down a remote dead end street in Jersey City, NJ, I encountered a large German Shepherd barking at me behind a fence. Reality and fiction seemed to meld for a moment.

Near the end of this street is the spot a great Sopranos locations website claims was the real Barone Sanitation, but looking at the building, it doesn’t seem to match. Here is Barone in season 2:

And here is Cinelli Scrap Metal, the location the website points to:

I think a more likely candidate is actually the building across the street. Surrounded by dumpsters, it does appear to be a garbage company, and the building looks similar, down to the large bays on the right side:

However, the windows appear to be gone. It’s possible they were removed in the 21 years since the episode aired. Or perhaps the real Barone Sanitation is yet to be found?

In any event, the bleak industrial landscape seemed a dead ringer for Barone’s depiction in the series. I could almost imagine Tony driving down the street.

On the way back, I came across a much more famous sight, which is visible in the opening credits: the Wilson Carpet man! Like many New Jerseyans, I had seen it before, but only from the road. This time, I got an opportunity to walk up and take a picture with this New Jersey celebrity!

An interesting tidbit: I noticed a stone at the base of the statue says “America #1, love it or leave it.” I don’t know what that has to do with carpets, but it did seem somehow appropriate on Memorial Day.

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This platform lets me diversify my real estate investments so I’m not too exposed to any one market. I’ve invested since 2018 and returns have been good so far. More on Fundrise in this post.

If you decide to invest in Fundrise, you can use this link to get your management fees waived for 90 days. With their 1% management fee, this could save you $250 on a $100,000 account. I will also get a fee waiver for 90-365 days, depending on what type of account you open.

iHerb

The only place I buy vitamins and supplements. I recently placed an order and received it in less than 48 hours with free shipping! I compared the prices and they were lower than Amazon. I also love how they test a lot of the vitamins so that you know you’re getting what the label says. This isn’t always the case with supplements.

Use this link to save 5%! I’ll also get 5% of however much you spend, at no cost to you.

Misfits Market

My wife and I have gotten organic produce shipped to our house by Misfits for over a year. It’s never once disappointed me. Every fruit and vegetable is super fresh and packed with flavor. I thought radishes were cold, tasteless little lumps at salad bars until I tried theirs! They’re peppery, colorful and crunchy! I wrote a detailed review of Misfits here.

Use this link to sign up and you’ll save $10 on your first order. I’ll also get $10.

Visiting Uncle Junior’s Headquarters from The Sopranos

This is overdue.

Tony Soprano

At the driver’s seat of a long black Lincoln, a well dressed man peruses a magazine. Behind him pulls a red SUV. A large figure emerges, walking purposefully in shiny brown wingtips.

This is how one of my favorite scenes from The Sopranos begins, as Tony makes small talk with Mikey Palmice before delivering him a beating he won’t soon forget. Mikey and his boss, Corrado “Junior” Soprano, recently attacked Tony’s nephew Chris and killed Chris’s friend over their penchant for hijacking Uncle Junior’s trucks. After dispensing with Mikey, Tony walks into Junior’s headquarters, the Sit Tite Loungenette, to try to reason with him.

I always thought the Sit Tite Loungenette looked perfect, a true piece of the 1960’s for a man like Junior, a man of that time. Yesterday, I went in search of this piece of TV history.

How it looked in The Sopranos
How it looked yesterday

This location used for the Uncle Jun’s headquarters is in Jersey City, NJ, and today the building is a Chinese restaurant called Asian Kitchen. Aside from the signage, the exterior looks exactly the same as in the series. It was thrilling to be on the same sidewalk as Tony and Mikey’s fight, gazing at the exact building I had seen so many times in one of my favorite shows.

Where Tony gave Mikey the beating of his life

The interior of the building appears to have been heavily remodeled, with a different layout and flooring. Most of the building is a kitchen and only the very front is accessible to place orders. Still, getting a chance to see it was awesome.

Inside

You see the Sit Tite a second time in the series, when Tony comes to tell Uncle Junior he wants him to be the boss of the family after Jackie Aprile’s death. With a determined look, Tony loads his pistol as he enters, unsure of the reception he’ll get from Uncle Jun.

If you’re in the area, check this great spot out!

Exterior, down the street

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Fundrise

This platform lets me diversify my real estate investments so I’m not too exposed to any one market. I’ve invested since 2018 and returns have been good so far. More on Fundrise in this post.

If you decide to invest in Fundrise, you can use this link to get your management fees waived for 90 days. With their 1% management fee, this could save you $250 on a $100,000 account. I will also get a fee waiver for 90-365 days, depending on what type of account you open.

iHerb

The only place I buy vitamins and supplements. I recently placed an order and received it in less than 48 hours with free shipping! I compared the prices and they were lower than Amazon. I also love how they test a lot of the vitamins so that you know you’re getting what the label says. This isn’t always the case with supplements.

Use this link to save 5%! I’ll also get 5% of however much you spend, at no cost to you.

Misfits Market

My wife and I have gotten organic produce shipped to our house by Misfits for over a year. It’s never once disappointed me. Every fruit and vegetable is super fresh and packed with flavor. I thought radishes were cold, tasteless little lumps at salad bars until I tried theirs! They’re peppery, colorful and crunchy! I wrote a detailed review of Misfits here.

Use this link to sign up and you’ll save $10 on your first order. I’ll also get $10.

Welcome to Sal “Big Pussy” Bonpensiero’s House from The Sopranos

Birds call in a cemetery in the early hours. Two men appear on a balcony. One hands the other a newspaper. Their faces are grave.

This is the backdrop for a classic scene of The Sopranos. Salvatore “Big Pussy” Bonpensiero brings FBI Special Agent Skip Lipari onto his balcony, where Lipari questions him about a high profile murder. Both suddenly clam up when Pussy’s wife comes out with the trash.

The lonely calling of the birds and Pussy looking out over a graveyard make a haunting image. The headstones, so close to Bonpensiero, subtly foreshadow his murder later in the season, when Tony Soprano finds out he’s an informant.

Big Pussy’s house is in Jersey City, NJ and I had the opportunity to visit yesterday. While we don’t see it from the outside in the series, when Tony visits in season 1 you can clearly see the same metal door and brick pillar as above.

The street is a dead end and Pussy’s house borders the vast Holy Name Cemetery. The house is upscale…evidently Pussy’s heroin business paid well! The cemetery itself seems like something out of The Sopranos, with the profusion of Italian names on the markers.

On the way home, I stopped by another Sopranos filming location, this one from season 6. Tony and Paulie are on the run as the FBI investigates a decades-old murder. On Kennedy Boulevard near Pussy’s house, Silvio Dante breaks the bad news to Tony that the FBI has found the body.

The liquor store has had a facelift since then, but the streetscape is still quite recognizable.

It was quite the thrill to see where these great scenes really happened!

Dig into these posts for more on The Sopranos:

If you found this post interesting, please share it on Twitter/Reddit/etc. using the buttons at the bottom of the page. This helps more people find the blog! 

Save Money on Stuff I Use:

Fundrise

This platform lets me diversify my real estate investments so I’m not too exposed to any one market. I’ve invested since 2018 and returns have been good so far. More on Fundrise in this post.

If you decide to invest in Fundrise, you can use this link to get your management fees waived for 90 days. With their 1% management fee, this could save you $250 on a $100,000 account. I will also get a fee waiver for 90-365 days, depending on what type of account you open.

iHerb

The only place I buy vitamins and supplements. I recently placed an order and received it in less than 48 hours with free shipping! I compared the prices and they were lower than Amazon. I also love how they test a lot of the vitamins so that you know you’re getting what the label says. This isn’t always the case with supplements.

Use this link to save 5%! I’ll also get 5% of however much you spend, at no cost to you.

Misfits Market

My wife and I have gotten organic produce shipped to our house by Misfits for over a year. It’s never once disappointed me. Every fruit and vegetable is super fresh and packed with flavor. I thought radishes were cold, tasteless little lumps at salad bars until I tried theirs! They’re peppery, colorful and crunchy! I wrote a detailed review of Misfits here.

Use this link to sign up and you’ll save $10 on your first order. I’ll also get $10.

This is Where New York Ambushed Tony Soprano’s Right Hand Man

“Gerry warned you Eli!”

Dim streetlights reflect off wet pavement. In the background, a red neon sign flickers out. “Kay’s Spring Garden.” As Hesh Rabkin and his son-in-law Eli prepare to head home, a black Lexus suddenly pulls in front of them. In an instant, they’re surrounded by thugs banging on the car. Finally, a burning rag inserted into the fuel tank gets them out of the car, desperate to save their own lives.

This classic scene in season 6 of The Sopranos ended with Eli in the hospital with severe injuries and after Gerry Torciano’s men attacked him for poaching Torciano’s loansharking customers. Even Hesh, Tony’s long-time confidant and business partner, got roughed up.

This scene was filmed on Congress Street just off Central Avenue in Jersey City’s Heights neighborhood. I actually lived just 4 blocks away for two years. So what is this location like in real life?

Kay’s Spring Garden is a real Chinese restaurant. I actually went past a couple of weeks ago, and it still looked exactly the same as it did in this Sopranos episode from 2006. It sits on Central Avenue, the main commercial street of Jersey City Heights. The stores on either side are different now: the flower shop has become a realtor, and Goehrig’s Bakery, long vacant, has become a high end cupcake shop.

The Heights has historically been a neighborhood of immigrants. First the Germans, then Jews and Italians, and now Hispanic people, often from the Dominican Republic or Puerto Rico. When I moved there in 2015, it was just beginning to gentrify. Today, it’s a mix of immigrants and young professionals.

Central Avenue is a charming street that I still love to walk down, even though I no longer live in the neighborhood. The bustle, the cute, family-run stores selling delicious food, the ambience, it can’t be beat!

The way the neighborhood looks at night in The Sopranos is very accurate to reality. It’s dark, quiet, and deserted. You don’t see many people around. Until a black Lexus pulls in front of you…

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