It’s been 16 years since Ralph Cifaretto lost his head on “The Sopranos,” but Joe Pantoliano — who won an Emmy for playing him — has never been better. Dozens of TV shows, films and a nude theater outing later, the father of four stars in off-Broadway’s “Drift,” as an Irish-American construction worker. These days, the 68-year-old Hoboken native lives with wife Nancy and their dogs in Fairfield, Conn., but he’s holing up on West 58th Street for the drama’s three-month run. Pantoliano, who recently spoke about overcoming depression and other demons, tells The Post where he chows down on the weekends.
I love dim sum, and Dim Sum Palace on West 56th Street is my new favorite place in the world. My first wife was half-Chinese and her mother was the best shumai maker in the whole world, but my son won’t even give me his grandma’s recipe! This place is tiny, and I get the sense it’s family-run. Pork buns, sticky rice: There’s a whole list of things I like, [including] a dessert called sweet egg custard sesame bun. It’s like their version of doughnuts. I love it!
Another place Nancy and I love to go is David Burke Tavern. It’s very casual, with high-end food. We love his bacon on a clothesline. It’s like three strips of bacon, and he gives you this enormous scissors that you cut it with. He’s got great burgers and some Asian stuff, too.
I went to a really cool place downtown last month for somebody’s birthday party — Omar’s [la Boite] on Broome Street. It was like a speakeasy-type thing. They have burlesque dancers, singers, a transvestite DJ — the talent’s amazing. The dancers have to squeeze in, so they’re standing on the booths behind you — you’re inches away from them. And then they disappear . . .
I just discovered this place, Don Antonio, right across the street from the [New World Stages] theater that has the best pizza. The secret to a great pizza is, when it gets cold, room temperature, the dough is still chewy, it doesn’t dry up. But this guy knows how to make his dough. I was there the other night, and I had the white pizza with arugula and prosciutto, and it was almost like a salad with bread underneath. I ate the whole thing.
“The Sopranos” was 20 years ago, but I’m always happy to see Michael Imperioli and Stevie van Zandt. You know, I’m pretty much a loner. Because my job is entertainment, I like peace and quiet, and being able to walk and have conversations with myself. I’ve actually grown to like my own company.