Arthur Avenue-Based La Casa Grande Debuts "A Bronx Tale" Cigars

By Nick Christophers
The iconic 1993 mob film "A Bronx Tale," based on Chazz Palminteri's autobiographical one-man show, tells the story of young Calogero (played by a pre-felonious Lillo Brancato; more on him here), who rejects the working class values of his loving father (Robert De Niro, who also directed) while falling in with Sonny, the local mob boss (Palminteri) who rules his piece of the New York borough from beneath a lamppost at the corner of Belmont Avenue and 187th Street.

Pauly DiSalvo family with Chazz Palminteri and Sophia Milos.

A Bronx Tale -- this year marks the film's 30th anniversary -- transformed Palminteri into one of Hollywood’s top go-to tough guys. And while the film was generally praised by critics and beloved by audiences, it didn't break any box office records and wound up stalling De Niro's directing career for over a decade. Nevertheless, A Bronx Tale is a  fan favorite that more than earned a place in the hall of fame of mob genre movies (alongside such classics as “The Godfather,” “Goodfellas,” and “Donnie Brasco").

Palminteri's passion project has since seen new life as a musical, a book, and most recently, the inspiration for a new cigar line.

“I am not a big cigar smoker, but I wanted to help with this idea," Palminteri said of the cigar line. “The product really is dedicated to my grandfather Calogero, and all the immigrants who have come to this country back in the day. The Italians, Jewish, Greeks, Irish and so forth to make a better life for the children. I knew Pauly and his father as I grew up here and it felt right to offer my support.”

Pauly DiSalvo, the owner of La Casa Grande Cigars on Arthur Avenue in the Bronx, developed the idea of launching a cigar line in conjunction with the film. As his grandfather was close friends with Chazz, he was able to collaborate with the actor/writer himself to make the idea a reality.

“Seven years ago I approached (Chazz) with this idea of creating a cigar line, and he was all for it. We went to Epic Cigars, a distributor, and they took the line to another level worldwide and we could not be happier,” said Pauly.

La Casa Grande makes the blend for the cigar, and Epic manufactures the product. 

Pauly is also seeking to create another special cigar line with Martin Kove of the film “Coba Kai” with the tentative title “No Mercy.”

 Martin Kove with son Jesse.

A recent event on Arthur Avenue to celebrate the Bronx Tale cigar launch offered a heady taste of the "old days." Attractively attired women and men dressed like they were ready for walk-on roles in the Sopranos all puffed on Bronx Tale cigars.

The event was packed with fans and celebrities including Katherine Narducci (The Sopranos, A Bronx Tale) and Sophia Milos (The Sopranos). 

Also on hand was Martin Kove. “I was in Louisville shooting a film and was heading to New York. Pauly, who is a friend of mine, knew I was coming to New York and invited me with my sons. I love New York, I am from Brooklyn. And when I come here, I like to take in some theatre as well. It is great to be here and support Pauly.” 

Dean Parsons founded Epic Cigars in 2010 after traveling to the Dominican Republic to foster a unique cigar. He worked with master blender Rolando Antonio Villamil for years to learn the craft of creating good cigars through tobacco cultivation, aging, fermentation, and the art of blending premium cigars. Hence, his new venture with La Casa Grande Cigars in the Bronx.