Released late last month on Netflix, The Irishman stars Robert De Niro as Darby-raised Philly mob associate Frank Sheeran — a former president of Wilmington’s International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 326 and purported mafia hit man who claimed to have murdered ex-Teamsters leader Jimmy Hoffa in author Charles Brandt’s 2004 book I Heard You Paint Houses.
Hoffa famously disappeared in Detroit in 1975 and was declared legally dead in 1982, and his disappearance was never officially solved. However, Sheeran’s deathbed confession to the famed Teamster’s murder serves as the basis for The Irishman, which takes place across 50 years and comes in at about 3 ½ hours in length.
Across its epic runtime, much of the film takes places in and around Philadelphia and its surrounding suburbs. Here, we run down a few real-life Philly locations in The Irishman, from famed mob hangouts like Villa di Roma and the Friendly Lounge in South Philly, to more obscure spots like the former Milestone Hauling headquarters in North Philly and Sheeran’s final resting place in Delaware County.
The Irishman is framed through the stories of an elderly Frank Sheeran, who relays the tales of his days as a mafia associate and hit man from a nondescript nursing home. In real life, Sheeran died in December 2003 at Pembrooke Health and Rehabilitation Residence in West Chester, according to his Inquirer obituary. There are conflicting reports of the cause of Sheeran’s death, varying from cancer, to an infection from an inflamed colon (as the Inquirer reported in 2003), to self-starvation (as Brandt wrote in I Heard You Paint Houses).
South Philly’s Friendly Lounge is a central location in the early part of The Irishman, and serves as the place where Sheeran becomes acquainted with mobster Felix “Skinny Razor” DiTullio. A well-known figure in Philadelphia mafia lore, DiTullio was a reputed hit man, loan shark, and mob captain, as well as the owner of the Friendly Lounge, which opened “sometime in the 1950s,” as Skinny’s son, Marco, told the Inquirer in 2017. Today, the lounge operates at 8th Street and Washington Avenue in South Philly, and it hasn’t changed all that much from the days presented in The Irishman — in fact, the sign is still the same.
Italian restaurant Villa di Roma is presented in The Irishman as a hangout for many major mob figures of midcentury Philadelphia. Sheeran, for example, meets mob bosses Russell Bufalino (Joe Pesci) and Angelo “the Docile Don” Bruno (Harvey Keitel) there for the first time, as well as the ill-fated Phil “Chicken Man” Testa (Larry Romano), and speaks to Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino) over the phone for the first time in the restaurant’s dining room. Today, Villa di Roma is open on 9th Street in the Italian Market, and is, like Philly itself, less mobbed-up than the good old days — but its food, as Inquirer food critic Craig LaBan wrote last year, still “touches South Philly’s Italian American soul.”
In a particularly brutal scene, De Niro’s Sheeran rushes with daughter Peggy (Lucy Gallina) to a grocery store on Allegheny Avenue, where he assaults a shopkeeper following an earlier altercation with the girl. However, it’s not clear where on Allegheny the shop is supposed to be located — no cross street is presented and I Heard You Paint Houses appears to make no mention of the incident. Available public records, meanwhile, do not attach Sheeran to any address in North Philadelphia, so it seems unlikely that the shop would be the hit man’s corner grocery store, as the film indicates.
A church interior appears a couple of times in The Irishman, though none of the characters ever mention its name. However, in the film’s credits, a priest in scenes of the baptisms of two of Sheeran’s children is credited as “Mother of Sorrows Priest,” indicating that the location may be West Philly’s Our Mother of Sorrows Church. As Sheeran says in I Heard You Paint Houses, he was booted as an altar boy at Our Mother of Sorrows after being caught drinking communion wine, and later married his first wife Mary there in 1947. Located at 48th Street and Lancaster Avenue, the church was closed by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia in 2017.
Every South Philly resident knows the long-running Melrose Diner at 15th Street and Snyder Avenue, and in The Irishman, so do Sheeran and fellow mobster Whispers DiTullio (no relation to Skinny). Early in the film, Whispers hires Sheeran to destroy Cadillac Linen Service in Delaware during a meeting at Melrose — a location chosen because, as Sheeran says in I Heard You Paint Houses, it was “more for the crowd grabbing a bite to eat before they go to a Phillies game” rather than mafia members. If you’re looking for a recommendation, Sheeran appears to have been partial to Melrose’s apple pie, according to the book.
What Whispers (played by actor Paul Herman) didn’t tell Sheeran about Cadillac Linen Service is that it was an interest of Philly mob boss Angelo Bruno, who spares Sheeran’s life in exchange for him agreeing to kill Whispers in what is Sheeran’s first mob hit. Following Whispers’ killing, Sheeran drives to a nondescript bridge on the Schuylkill River where he dumps the murder weapon. Apparently, that area of the Schuylkill is a spot that “everybody uses,” as Sheeran says — so much so that “if they ever send divers down there, they’d be able to arm a small country.” True to form, the location becomes Sheeran’s preferred weapons disposal area in the film.
At one point in The Irishman, Bufalino sends Sheeran to Milestone Hauling in Philly, where he meets a guy named Phil to pick up a truck that was later used to deliver weapons for the Bay of Pigs Invasion in 1961. Milestone Hauling was actually a real business at 2544 E. Cambria St. in Port Richmond, and the so-called guy named Phil was actually owner Phil Milestone, who Sheeran says in I Heard You Paint Houses “owed some big money and he couldn’t pay, so he was doing favors instead.” Milestone was later sentenced to two years in prison over bribing an IRS agent for preferable tax treatment, according to a 1978 Inquirer report.
Formerly located on Walnut Street in Philly, in 1960, the Latin Casino moved to Cherry Hill, where The Irishman’s 1974 Frank Sheeran Appreciation Night takes place with guests including area figures like Frank Rizzo and Cecil Moore. The Latin Casino was also an early hangout for Sheeran, who spent some weekends there with Skinny Razor, according to I Heard You Paint Houses. The spot later closed in 1978 and reopened briefly as the Emerald Club, closing for good in 1982. It was later razed to make room for the headquarters of Subaru of America — which itself was torn down earlier this year after the company’s move to Camden.