I recently went on the 25th anniversary edition of On Location Tours’ long-standing Sopranos Sites Tour which gives you an up close and personal look at many memorable and obscure filming locations. Most are in the cities surrounding Newark like Kearny, Bloomfield, Lodi and North Bergen. This tour will definitively change the way that you view The Garden State forever. Led by a friendly and knowledgeable actor named John DiFilippo, there are plenty of photo ops ending with the grandaddy of them all—the place that we see Tony Soprano sitting and eating onion rings in the final scene of the legendary show.
One of the first stops after coming out of the Lincoln Tunnel (which you see Tony driving through on the opening credits) is at this lumberjack statue. The statue is holding a roll of green carpeting because the store that you see behind it used to sell carpets—but in keeping with the times, it is now a weed dispensary. It would not shock me if someday soon the roll of carpet gets replaced with a giant joint!
You often saw members of Tony’s crew along with guys from the other “families” meeting at the Skyway Diner in Kearny. Christopher Moltisani even got shot in front of it! This legendary greasy spoon has been used in numerous mob films and a number of period pieces as well. Sadly, it is no longer in business. I was honestly hoping to stop in, run into Pauline Walnuts and share a cannoli with him!
Here’s a pizza place called Bella Re’s that served as the background for a chase scene involving a baseball bat. This is in Kearny, which is also the site of AJ Soprano’s favorite pizza spot, Pizza Land—a place that pops up on the show here and there.
It was a pleasure to get out of the bus and walk up the stairs of St. Cecilia’s Church where Carmela Soprano dumped a tray of her famous ziti in a garbage can after she caught Father Phil (who she had a crush in) being spoon fed another pasta dish by one of her best friends. St. Cecilia’s is a stone’s throw from the site of Satriale’s Pork Store in Kearny (sadly now an empty lot).
Kearny’s J & R Auto Repair served as Big Pussy’s auto body shop, later taken over by his widow Angie once he went swimming with the fishes. It looks pretty much the same as when it was on the show!
This school served as AJ’s alma mater, Verbum Dei High School, where he got in trouble for all sorts of after school antics that caused damage and got his parents’ tempers flaring. You also saw his older sis Meadow attend this school from 1996 to 2000 where she was a mostly A student. Lady Gaga was actually in a scene shot here (back when she was just plain ol’ Stefani Germanotta)—she played a student involved with AJ and his friends when they trashed the school pool. This incident got AJ shipped off to military school by Tony and Carmela.
One of the high points of the On Location Sopranos Tour is getting to go to Holsten’s in Bloomfield and getting your photo taken in the same spot the series ended at. Holsten’s did not serve onion rings until they appeared in the final scene of The Sopranos which ended abruptly with the screen going black. (This is discussed on the bus as tour guests ride around and gets rather heated!) I opted for two scoops of their most popular ice cream flavors, Cookies ‘N Cream and Vanilla Fudge. You will love Holsten’s not just for their place in TV history but because of its original 1930s glass cases full of homemade candy that you can purchase and it’s charming vintage soda fountain with spinning stools. They have fun Sopranos merch that you can purchase on the way out.
The final stop on the Sopranos Tour is Satin Dolls, home of the original Bada Bing (as it says on their sign). Tour guests are not allowed to take photos on the inside but it does look the same as when it was on the show. Sylvia Dante’s offices in the back were actually at Silver Cup Studios where most Sopranos interiors were shot—I went in the back looking for him and he was not there. Guests on the Sopranos Tour are given at least a half hour to roam around Satin Dolls, and the tour guide said that guests are allowed to take the time out for a private dance in the VIP room. For more info on this unforgettable experience that includes Sopranos trivia games while traveling on the bus, go to Sopranos Sites Tour. It’s an “unfuggeddable” four hour experience that is well worth the $72 price of admission!