James Gandolfini's voice is distinctly different in this first episode than it would be in future ones. After this episode, Gandolfini used a dialect coach to sound more like a mobster from Newark, New Jersey.
In this episode, the pork store used as the mob's hangout is named Centanni's Meat Market, an actual butcher shop in Elizabeth, New Jersey. But producers soon after found an abandoned location in Kearny, NJ, converted it into the fictional Satriale's Pork Store, and used that site throughout the rest of the series. But mistakenly--or indifferently--a quick image of Satriale's, not Centanni's, is included in this pilot's opening montage, as it also would be for the next eight years of the "Sopranos".
Tony is referred to here as "the boss" as well as "the Don of New Jersey". Yet in the next episode, new character Jackie Aprile is the (acting) boss and Tony is only one of many crew captains, or a capo, though he is considered the heir apparent.
The role of Uncle Junior, played by Dominic Chianese, almost went to Robert Loggia who had been seriously considered for it. Loggia would appear later in four episodes of the series as Michele "Feech" La Manna. Chianese is also the show's only cast member who had played a featured role in The Godfather: Part II (1974), as Johnny Ola.
As the show's creator and executive producer David Chase is also given a writer's credit for every one of the "Sopranos"'s 86 episodes. Chase also directed two of these episodes: this original pilot and the the highly controversial series finale over eight years later.
While Tony and Livia are visiting the nursing home, a group of elderly people is shown watching The Rockford Files (1974) on TV. Creator David Chase got his big break in television as a writer and producer on that show.
The main reason James Gandolfini was cast instead of Michael Rispoli for the role of Tony Soprano is that David Chase felt that, while both actors were likable and could make that work for Tony, Michael was a much more light-hearted person than James and the elements of self-darkness would be a better fusion into the character of Tony.