At first glance, Holsten’s looks like a relic from the bygone era of soda fountains. But beyond its vintage signage, decor, and classic menu, the unassuming ice cream parlor and diner is part of a very important piece of television history: It was the setting for the final, controversial scene of The Sopranos.
The scene, which ends ambiguously, is long debated in fan circles. What was the fate of mob boss Tony Soprano? What happened in the booth where he sat with his wife, Carmela, and son, AJ, after the screen abruptly cut to black? The world may never know. But you can ponder alternate theories as you sit in your own booth and order the same onion rings Tony did.
Long before the spot was cemented in pop culture history, New Jersey residents came to Holsten’s from all over the state for their homemade desserts. First opened under the name Strubbe’s Ice Cream Parlor in 1939, it went through several names and owners before ending up as Holsten’s in the 1950s. The current owners say that the secret to their success is that they keep everything old fashioned and that they continue to make their chocolate and ice cream themselves.
After the airing of the series finale of The Sopranos, however, fans of the show flocked to the ice cream parlor from all over the country. When James Gandolfini, who played the character Tony Soprano, passed away in 2013, the booth where the Soprano family sat was sectioned off for several days. Today, you can slide into the booth, still marked “Reserved for the Soprano family” to take a picture.
Know Before You Go
Sopranos tours tend to stop by until around 12:30 or 1:30 p.m. To avoid crowds, come later in the afternoon.