Sirico was born in New York City, New York. Before turning to acting, Sirico was convicted of several crimes, and had been arrested 28 times. There is a Sopranos reference to this fact when Paulie says, "I lived through the seventies by the skin of my nuts when the Colombos were goin' at it." In 1967, he was sent to prison for robbing a Brooklyn after-hours club, but was released after serving thirteen months. In 1971, he pled guilty to felonyweaponspossession and was sentenced to an "indeterminate" prison term of up to four years, of which Sirico ended up serving 20 months. Sirico said that during his imprisonment, he was visited by an acting troupe composed of ex-cons, which inspired him to give acting a try. According to a court transcript, at the time of his sentencing, he also had pending charges for drug possession. Sirico appeared in a 1989 documentary about life, The Big Bang by James Toback, in which he discussed his earlier life.
He also played policemen in the films Dead Presidents and Deconstructing Harry. Recently, he told the host of a Las Vegas radio show he would be playing the role of an ill-tempered high school football coach in an upcoming comedy for children called Sports Heaven. He is currently set to star in the upcoming drama Zarra's Law, written and produced by Joseph Scarpinito for Scarpe Diem Productions. In late 2013, he voiced the character of Vinny Griffin, who was a family pet in Family Guy for two episodes.