“Are you gonna eat some balls?” Pauly D asks me, busting out a smile so bright it’s unclear if he has extremely white teeth or extremely tan skin. Probably both. 

“Pauly, you just gave her a headline,” his publicist says, floating me a nervous frown.
 
He’s talking about meatballs, of course. The baseball-sized meatballs from Martarano’s Italian restaurant, which are displayed in graphic detail on every last Harrah’s hotel room key with a close-up of lumpy red sauce, less appetizing than it is gory.
 
Pauly orders one of the balls for himself as his friends, and friends of friends, filter into the curtained-off back room where we’re sitting. Louis Prima’s “Che La Luna” is playing as he stands up and greets them, saying, “Party’s here!” It is one of many moments throughout the evening in which Pauly is impossibly on-brand.
 
This almost cartoonish persona might read like the natural extension of reality TV fandom, but Paul DelVecchio is adamant that he was Pauly D long before the words Jersey Shore came to symbolize a polarizing microcosm of Italian-American culture. At the very least, his mother, Donna DelVecchio, can corroborate that he was gelling his hair as early as the seventh grade.