The Sopranos tells a lengthy and detailed tale, spread across several locations within the mob-infested New Jersey. At times, events spill out of the city too, eradicating any form of monotony. And while most of the locations are fictional, a couple of them actually exist, thus connecting the show to the real world.
The numerous locations in The Sopranos are all enchanting, but a select few are more iconic than the rest, not only because of their geographical significance but also because they host some of the most memorable events. These locations also help magnify certain themes that are lodged within the story.
Thinking they have killed the Russian mobster, Valery, Christopher and Paulie take his body to the Pine Barrens to dump it, only for him to jump out of the trunk and disappear into the snow-covered woods. While hunting Valery down, Paulie and Christopher get lost too.
Apart from being the location where events of the greatest episode in the series take place, Pine Barrens is also where the made guys are outsmarted for the first time. Despite searching for the injured Valery in the woods for hours, the two DiMeo mobsters fail to find him. Viewers also get to hear the best of Paulie’s funniest quotes in Pine Barrens. When Tony calls to warn him that Valery was a Russian Interior Ministry Special Ops soldier who killed 16 Chechen rebels, Paulie mishears and tells Christopher that Valery was an interior decorator who killed 16 Czechoslovakians.
The Soprano Home
Crime does pay in David Chase’s fictional world, and so Tony has a beautiful mansion in North Caldwell, Jersey. His neighbors, Mr. Ruggerio and the Cusamanos, would prefer a situation where they didn’t live next to a mob boss, but they are forced to deal with it.
In the Soprano home, Tony’s murderous hands instead turn to gentle onion-slicing. Withing the walls, he is a (somewhat) dedicated husband and family man. It’s no surprise that the FBI fails to get anything by tapping his house since he rarely discusses business there. The Soprano home also yanks audiences away from the organized crime anarchy and inserts them into telenovela-like territory where Tony’s complicated relationship with Carmela is explored.
Managed by Silvio, the Lodi-base strip club is the favorite hangout joint of DiMeo Crime Family members. When not whacking people or engaging in racketeering, they prefer to play pool inside the establishment.
In what becomes a pattern, the point of no return between several feuding parties is reached at the Bada-Bing. Ralph’s decision to kill Tracee outside the Bing is what makes the high-earning capo expendable in Tony’s eyes. Christopher threatening Tony at the Bing also marks the irreversible destruction of the uncle-nephew relationship they once had. And the attempted hit on Silvio by the Lupertazzi Crime Family outside the Bing causes Tony to channel all his resources into hunting and killing Phil.
Satriale’s Pork Store
Satriale’s Pork Store is another preferred hangout joint for DiMeo mobsters. One of the best law enforcement officers in The Sopranos, the FBI’s Agent Harris is a regular too.
Satralie’s Pork Store symbolizes murder and mayhem. The first-ever whacking on the show happens here when Christopher kills Emil Kolar. This opens the floodgates for more executions. The manner in which Christopher and Furio dispose of Richie Aprille’s body at Satriale’s also sheds light on the mob’s perspective on human life. To them, there is no major difference between beef and dead bodies. It’s also at Satriale’s where Tony realizes that having lived by the sword, he and his men might just die by it. This realization comes when Agent Harris warns him about impending attacks by the New York crew.
Owned by Tony’s childhood friend, Artie Burco, the New Jersey restaurant is always hosting a mafioso at any given time. Tony enjoys having dinner there too.
The purpose of Vesuvio in the show’s narrative is mostly to excavate and bring Tony’s human side to the surface. While dealing with Artie, Tony is a totally different person. He loans the restaurateur money when he is broke and comforts him when he is down. He never yells at him and always apologizes when he is wrong. This warm attitude is never replicated elsewhere, even when Tony is dealing with Carmela. In a way, Tony and Artie’s best scenes at the Vesuvio truly do serve as Friendship 101 classes.
When news comes out that Tony’s capo, Vito, is a member of the LGBTQ+ community, he goes to hide in New Hampshire. There, he begins seeing a chef named Jim “Johnny Cakes” Witowski.
Thanks to New Hampshire, The Sopranos’ first LGBTQ+ romance storyline is introduced. The theme of homophobia is heavily dissected and examined too, with the mob’s stance on the subject being viewed as outdated. The deep addiction that gangsters have to crime also becomes clear through Vito’s New Hampshire stay. When forced to make a choice between his new lover and his old life, he chooses his old life. Unfortunately, returning to New Jersey gets him killed.
Dr. Melfi’s Office
Tony starts seeing the psychiatrist Dr. Melfi when he gets panic attacks early in the series. The two go on to have a close relationship, with Tony heeding most of Dr. Melfi’s best pieces of advice.
Without the visits to Dr. Melfi’s office, the empathetic side of Tony wouldn’t exist. It’s the sessions that make him handle his professional and family feuds in a reasonable manner. Thanks to doctor-patient confidentiality, Tony is free to open up about sensitive issues like the crimes he has committed without worrying about implicating himself.
Tony and his daughter Meadow go looking for colleges in Maine midway through the first season. While in the area, he spots Febby Petrulio, one of the notorious FBI informants in The Sopranos, and hunts him down.
Maine is important for two reasons. First, it helps solidify the bond between Tony and his daughter, Meadow. For the first time, he confesses to her that he is in the mafia and she appreciates the honesty. The revelation keeps the two close for the remainder of the show. Maine also highlights how important loyalty is to the mob. Even though he is with his daughter, Tony doesn’t mind risking his life to ensure Febby pays for snitching and going into witness protection.
Green Grove Retirement Community
Tony and Paulie take their mothers to the Green Grove Retirement Community at different stages. Though it’s one of the most luxurious retirement homes, Livia considers it a prison.
High value is placed on family in the Cosa Nostra. No matter the differences between family members, they always look out for each other and that’s why Tony takes Livia to the home, despite their strained relationship. Still, Livia continues to paint herself as a low-key villain by showing a lack of appreciation. The Green Grove Retirement Community also helps also prevents senior DiMeo members from catching RICO cases, since they hide evidence there.
New York has always been a hotspot for mob activity. In the show, New York’s underworld is governed by the DiMeo Crime Family’s main rivals, the Lupertazzi Crime Family.
New York is mostly a symbol of rivalry and war. Whether it’s Coco harassing Tony’s daughter in a restaurant or Phil Leotardo making jokes about Tony to his capo, every scene in the city involves some form of antagonism by Lupertazzi members towards DiMeo members. New York is also the location of the most gruesome scene in which Phil Leotardo gets whacked at a gas station in front of his family.