To say The Sopranos was anchored around food would be an understatement. Every episode of the long-running HBO series (which is available to stream anytime on HBO Now) had at least one or two scenes staged in restaurants, delis, diners, clubs, or kitchens. Food was everywhere in this show. Late night meetings took place in empty dining rooms, bodies of enemies were dismember in butcher shops, and plots were hatched in hushed tones at candle-lit tables. Hell, the whole show staged its finale scene in a diner that has “the best onion rings in the state.”
We’ve gone back through the series in a very hungry search for some of the best places featured throughout the run. Unfortunately, a lot of the places have closed since the show ended ten — yes, ten — years ago. Still, we wanted to make a list of some of our favorite spots, revealing how food gave depth and character to one of the greatest TV shows in history. There are some classic bars, delis, and restaurants that you’ll definitely want to hit up when you’re in the New York/New Jersey area. But you best be sure not to wear a hat in any of classier joints.
PIZZALAND — North Arlington, NJ
‘The Sopranos’ opening credit sequence has become as legendary and parodied as the show itself. The drive from lower Manhattan into the far reaches of the Jersey suburbs takes you ever deeper into Tony’s world.
Pizzland on the Belleville Turnpike always popped out as Tony drove past, toking on his cigar. It’s a hole-in-the-wall joint that serves good pies, overloaded subs, and parm’d everything. It’s everything you could want from an Italian American take-out pizza joint.
THE MULBERRY STREET BAR — New York, NY
From season four until the end of the series, the Averna Social Club became a big part of ‘The Sopranos” world, showing up in over a dozen episodes. The Mulberry Street Bar is an Italian American institution and became the real world location for the fictitious club.
The bar is right smack-dab in the center of New York’s Little Italy on, you guessed it, Mulberry Street. It’s also served as locations for Donnie Brasco, The Godfather Part III, The Pope Of Greenwich Village, and several other films. It’s a quintessential Mulberry Street dive with a long history, a long beer list, a simple cocktail menu, and plenty of bar food to soak up all that Averna you’ll inevitably drink while you’re there.
CENTANNI’S MEAT MARKET — Elizabeth, NJ
Centanni’s Meat Market was the original Satriale’s butcher shop for the pilot before the show went to series and needed to find a place that wasn’t a real business to stage scenes.
The third generation butchery still operates daily on the corner of 2nd Street and Center Avenue in Elizabeth. The cheeky pig neon sign is still glowing in the shop’s window every day and the sausages, salami, pork chops, and veal are all on point.
RALPH PICCOLO’S PIZZA — Paterson, NJ
Around season three and four Christopher started hanging out at Ooh-Fa Pizza & Restaurant. In real life, Oof-Fa is Ralph Piccolo’s Pizza in Paterson. It was another old-school joint that slings a lot of pies, plenty of hot and cold subs, and plate after plate of pasta. We hear the baked ziti is delicious.
BAMONTE’S RESTAURANT — Brooklyn, NY
Over in Brooklyn, Bamonte’s Restaurant has been dishing up Italian American fare for well over a century. It’s also where Tony did a lot of business when he had to broker deals with members of New York’s Five Families.
When you walk into the place, you’re transported back in time to another era where red sauce and veal cutlets flew out of the kitchen at breakneck speeds. Even the bar with its old mirrors, cracked tiling, and antique register gives the whole place an amber resin feel.
CAFFE PALERMO — New York, NY
Caffe Palermo in Little Italy is a must stop bakery. “Little” Carmine (crime boss and ‘Cleaver’ movie producer) frequents this spot and is seen taking calls from Tony out front.
Caffe Palermo is best known for its varied and delicious rainbow of cannoli. The creme-filled crunchy pastries are an Sicilian delight worth hunting down the next time you’re in Little Italy.
MANOLO’S — Elizabeth, NJ
Nuovo Vesuvio was shot at Punta Dura out in Long Island. But it has sadly closed. Alternatively, you can visit Manolo’s Restaurant in Elizabeth, which stood in as Artie Bucco’s original Vesuvio in the pilot before Tony had Silvio blow it up to put a kink in Junior’s plans to whack “Little Pussy” there.
Tony figured it’d be better for Artie to collect on the insurance than lose business over a mob murder. This show was crazy from the start.
POPULAR FISH MARKET — Newark, NJ
Leave it to Christopher to ask if fish smells fishy when he stops at the Popular Fish Market in Newark. Christopher drops in the place to stock up for a card game and orders plenty of fish and shrimp and makes sure to slide a matchbook under the scale — completing his sleazy, petty criminal persona.
APPLEGATE FARM — Montclair, NJ
Alright, this place only shows up once and very late in the series when Phil Leotardo (one of the bosses of New York’s Five Families) takes the kid of a guy he whacked out for ice cream to try and get him to stop being anti-social after the death of his dad. The baroque nature of the scene aside, the ice cream looked fantastic.
Applegate Farm in Montclair, New Jersey, is a great stop if you’re heading down the Garden State Parkway (take the Highway 3 exit). The ice cream stand is what’s left of the old, 19th-century dairy farm. The long list of delicious ice cream flavors is still a huge draw and well worth the trip.
HOLSTEN’S — Bloomfield, NJ
Spoiler alert (in case you haven’t seen a show that ended ten years ago)! This is where it all ended. Tony, Carmela, Anthony, Jr., and Meadow meet for a family dinner. Don’t Stop Believin’ plays from the jukebox. Tony orders a basket of ‘the best onion rings in the state’ for the table. And then … darkness. It was a beautiful end to a masterstroke of television.
Holsten’s in Bloomfield is still doling out onion rings and jukebox classics. You can head there on a tour or just go on your own. Order some rings, maybe a burger, and wash it all down with a thick milkshake. It’s classic Americana diner fare done with care. Try not to black out from all the greasy-spoon calories.