Joseph R. Gannascoli (born February 15, 1959) is an American actor most notable for his portrayal of Vito Spatafore on the HBO series, The Sopranos.
Gannascoli attended St. John's University for two years and majored in communications. Gannascoli is currently married to Diana Gannascoli, and markets his own original brand of marinara sauce. In recent interviews, he described himself as "psychotic," and regularly jokes about his weight. He currently resides in Long Island, New York.
Gannascoli learned culinary art and opened a restaurant, Soup As Art Restaurant in Brooklyn. He has claimed to be a "world-famous chef" in recent interviews.
As an actor, Gannascoli has appeared in Goodfellas (a major influence on The Sopranos, where Gannascoli played an uncredited role), Ed Wood, Blowfish, Mickey Blue Eyes and 976-Wish. Gannascoli's television credits include 30 episodes of The Sopranos in a guest starring capacity and one episode of Law & Order. Prior to the start of Season 6 of The Sopranos, Gannascoli was promoted to series regular. Before appearing as mobster Vito Spatafore in season two, Joseph R. Gannascoli appeared as a pastry shop patron named "Gino" in the season one episode "The Legend of Tennessee Moltisanti".
In a May, 2008, interview with AventuraUSA.com, Gannascoli revealed that he'd originally auditioned for the role of Bobby Baccalieri, but did not get it. That role ultimately went to Steven R. Schirripa. Gannascoli went on to say that he was the one who first proposed the idea of a gay mobster to two of show's writers in an effort to become more involved in the show.
Gannascoli participated in the weight loss reality television program, Celebrity Fit Club and lost over 32 pounds, 10.6% of his body weight. Gannasoli started Fit Club at 302 lb and finished the show at 270 lb. Since leaving the show Joe has gained a significant amount of weight back, weighing in at approximately 285 lb.
He has published a crime novel called A Meal To Die For, loosely based on his life.
He was a guest on a Philadelphia sports radio talk show. Later during the day, he called the station and argued with Howard Eskin, defending that a Sopranos autograph session was not done for money purposes only. He also regularly makes appearances at the start of the "Sopranos Location Tour" in Manhattan.