Palminteri was born on May 15, 1952, in the Bronx, the son of Rose, a homemaker, and Lorenzo Palminteri, a bus driver. He was raised in the Belmont neighborhood of the Bronx. Palminteri's surname is of Sicilian origin and his family is originally from Menfi in the province of Agrigento, Sicily. His grandparents, Calogero Palminteri and Rosa Bonfante, married in 1908 and moved to the United States in 1910.
He struggled to become a star, splitting his time between acting in off-Broadway plays and moonlighting as a bouncer, alongside Dolph Lundgren. His big break came in 1988 with the premiere of his autobiographical one-man show, A Bronx Tale, which he wrote after being fired from a club for refusing entry to super agent Swifty Lazar; Robert De Niro later developed and directed a film version (1993).
Palminteri has had acclaimed dramatic performances in films such as The Perez Family, Jade, and Diabolique, as well as comedic roles in films such as Oscar, Analyze This, and Down to Earth.
During its run, he appeared in many advertisements for Vanilla Coke, in which he portrayed a mob boss who would threaten celebrities if they did not praise the taste of the product in question, and then let them walk away with the Vanilla Coke to "reward their curiosity", touching on its slogan at the time. Palminteri has voiced characters in various animated films, the most notable being 2006's Hoodwinked.
He made his directorial debut with Women vs. Men. He has also directed Noel.
Palminteri's recent acting efforts include A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints, Running Scared, and Arthur and the Minimoys.
In 2004, he received the "Indie Hero Award" from the Method Fest Independent Film Festival for his artistic achievements in film.
Palminteri starred on Broadway in A Bronx Tale, the semiautobiographical one-man show he first performed (as 'A Bronx Play') at Theatre West in Los Angeles in 1989. The Broadway production, directed by Jerry Zaks and with music by John Gromada, began previews October 4, 2008, at the Walter Kerr Theatre and opened on October 25, running for 18 weeks. Palminteri plays 18 roles in A Bronx Tale, which depicts a rough childhood on the streets of the Bronx. The play ran for two months at Playhouse 91 in 1989. Robert De Niro saw this show there and made his directorial debut with the big-screen version, co-starring with Palminteri.
Palminteri starred opposite Kenny D'Aquila in D'Aquila's play, "Unorganized Crime." Palminteri always appreciated the shot that Robert De Niro gave him, so he in turn agreed to star in D'Aquila's mafia-themed drama.
On January 20, 2010, Palminteri guested on Modern Family and played the same character on the November 2, 2011, episode. Palminteri has reprised the role twice more in season 5. In June 2010, Palminteri began guest-starring on the TNT crime drama Rizzoli & Isles as Frank Rizzoli, Sr.
Palminteri will portray deceased mobster Paul Castellano in the upcoming John Gotti biopic Gotti: In the Shadow of My Father.
In 2011, Palminteri opened a restaurant, Chazz: A Bronx Original, in Baltimore's Little Italy neighborhood; their main foods are coal-fired pizza and Italian food. However, the restaurant closed in 2015. Palminteri opened an Italian restaurant, Chazz Palminteri Ristorante Italiano, in New York City on Second Avenue. Also, Palminteri did the voice acting for the Call of Duty: Black Ops II character Sal De Luca in the zombies map Mob of the Dead, and his likeness was used for the character as well.
Palminteri lives in Bedford, New York. He describes himself as a "very spiritual", devout Roman Catholic. He has two children: Dante Lorenzo (born October 11, 1995) and Gabriella Rose (born December 25, 2001).2007 – A Bronx Tale – performer
2013 – Human – performer and writer
1989 – A Bronx Tale – writer and performer
2002 – The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui – Ernesto Roma