Tag Archives: Organized Crime

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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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.

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The Mafia’s Hoboken Fortress

On a narrow street at the edge of town sits a squat brick building. There are no windows. On the street, lookouts watch for unfamiliar faces. The few who do enter are carefully watched.

Inside: the headquarters of the most powerful mafia family in this country.

This is Casella’s Restaurant in Hoboken, NJ. In the 1980’s, it functioned as home to the Genovese crime family. Law enforcement attention had made the Genovese family’s usual haunts in Little Italy uncomfortable, and much of the family decamped to New Jersey to meet.

Casella’s as it once was

Casella’s was owned by Genovese soldier Martin “Mots” Casella, but the real power belonged to Louis “Bobby” Manna, consigliere of the Genovese family. As one of the top leaders, Manna held numerous meetings at this bunker-like restaurant. Another fixture was Hoboken bookie Peter “Petey Cap” Caporino, whose own social club was a few blocks away.

Genovese family consigliere Louis “Bobby” Manna

In 1987, Manna began to plot the murder of Gambino family boss John Gotti. He made those plans where he felt most comfortable: at Casella’s. Gotti had broken mafia rules by killing prior Gambino boss Paul Castellano. The Gambino family was also the Genovese’s biggest rival.

Before the hit could be carried out, the FBI tipped Gotti to the danger, likely saving his life. But how did the FBI know about the plan in the first place?

Shortly before Manna hatched the plot to murder Gotti, the FBI had done what they previously thought impossible: placed a bug inside Casella’s. It gave them the planning of the Gotti hit, the murder of associate Irwin Schiff, and a lot more.

Manna and other top Genovese members were sentenced to lengthy prison terms in a trial that was a who’s who of future political stars: NJ Attorney General Samuel Alito went on to become a Supreme Court Justice, federal prosecutor Michael Chertoff became Secretary of Homeland Security, and the judge happened to be future president Donald Trump’s elder sister.

Casella’s today

After a sale, closures due to code violations, and a fire that destroyed the apartments above, Casella’s was finally demolished at the end of 2020. All that remains of this intriguing piece of history is a vacant lot.

I wish I could visit the old Casella’s and order a plate of pasta…if they’d let me in.

More interesting spots in New Jersey:

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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.

Where Christopher Moltisanti Almost Died

How could this happen? How could this happen?

Tony Soprano

As Christopher Moltisanti walks out of a diner beneath the Pulaski Skyway, he happens across two of his partners in crime: Matthew Bevilacqua and Sean Gismonte. What’s brought them to this same desolate spot?

Suddenly, Sean leans out the window. In his hand: a pistol. Before Chris can react, Sean has already shot him repeatedly. Despite his wounds, Chris fires back, killing Sean instantly and nearly hitting Matthew. As Matthew flees, Chris lays in a pool of his own blood, left for dead.

This scene in season 2 of The Sopranos shocked me probably almost as much as Christopher when I first saw it. Unhappy with their progress in the underworld, Matthew and Sean decide to make a power play, with disastrous results.

I went in search of this iconic spot yesterday. The scene was filmed at the New Skyway Diner in Kearny, NJ, which is now closed. However, the building looks the same except for the removed signage, and the heavily industrial surroundings haven’t changed a bit.

Chris coming out of the diner in season 2
What the diner looks like now
On the stairs

It was quite a thrill to stand on the same stairs Chris walked down just before he was nearly killed. The warehouse that Matthew runs past in terror, firing blindly after the hit has gone awry, also hasn’t changed a bit.

Matthew fleeing after the botched hit
Christopher laid out in the parking lot
In the same spot

After the attempt on Christopher’s life, Matthew flees to Richie Aprile’s office. Knowing Richie disliked Chris, Matthew and Sean tried to kill him to curry favor with Richie. But if Matthew is expecting a warm reception, he is sorely disappointed. Richie chases him out, leaving him with nowhere to go.

I also visited Richie’s office recently, which looks exactly the same as in the series. You can see it here.

The New Skyway Diner appears one more time in The Sopranos: when Tony and his cousin, Tony Blundetto, plan Tony B’s future after he gets out of prison. I always found the window framing the skyway at dawn an arresting image. I only wish the diner was still open so I could have a coffee there myself!

The two Tonys

More on The Sopranos:

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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.

A Notorious Mob Informant’s Hoboken Headquarters

A slight, bespectacled man with white hair sits behind a table, going over today’s bets. At his side: a beeper. You might not even notice it.

Inside the beeper is a tiny microphone. This unassuming bookie in a nondescript storefront is about to take down the most powerful organized crime family in this country.

Peter “Petey” Caporino, a Hoboken native, got into running numbers while working for a trucking company, taking bets from the drivers. He later expanded into a growing numbers racket. It got so big that he needed protection, and the Genovese crime family came to his aid. For a price.

Peter “Petey” Caporino

Petey operated his business out of the Character Club and Resolute Club 404 in Hoboken, NJ. Business was good…perhaps a little too good. Caporino’s operation caught the attention of the FBI, who threatened him and his wife with prison unless he cooperated. Caporino didn’t want to see his wife go to jail and worried over who would care for his disabled daughter. So he agreed to cooperate. Caporino fed the FBI information for 18 years, severely weakening the Genovese family.

This week, I went in search of the remains of this shadowy world. My first stop was the Resolute Club 404, at 404 Madison Street. The building seems to have changed little over the years, although 404 is now a private residence. Next door is an appropriately clandestine-looking members only club:

I imagined Petey there, quietly recording everything and probably terrified that these gangsters would discover his secret and kill him. Next, I stopped at what was the Character Club at 111 Monroe St:

Like so much of Hoboken, it has become high end condominiums. All the more reason to search out this history before it disappears completely.

Here’s how it looked in Petey’s day:

Caporino’s testimony led to the conviction of 16 high level mafia members. His tapes provided evidence on bookmaking, loan sharking, and even murder.

Despite this reprieve from punishment, Caporino couldn’t seem to leave the life. Just a few years later he was arrested for bookmaking yet again. In a sign of the mafia’s dwindling power, he had been able to simply continue his business much as before, despite testifying against top mobsters.

Caporino wound up in prison after all, and after his sentence, his trail runs cold. But if you stand outside the Resolute Club, you can almost imagine him coming and going, beeper always at his side.

Have a great weekend everyone!

More interesting spots in NJ:

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.