Paul, or "Paulie" as his friends called him, was known for his size. He was about six feet tall and weighed close to 250 pounds over the majority of his life. His appearance resembled that of a sumo wrestler, with jowls hanging below his chin, likening his appearance to that of a ferocious bulldog. He moved slowly through life because he felt that he didn't have to move quick for anyone and figured things would bend to his will, one way or another. His speaking often consisted of short grunt-like responses.
Paulie owned a flower shop at Fulton Avenue in New York as well as a number of other businesses, including an auto junkyard, and bar-restaurant, where he and his cronies liked to hang out. At the bar, men asked Paulie for help and many deals were made, even severe punishments. Paulie lived with his wife Phyllis and three sons: Paul Jr., Peter, and Lenny.
Paulie was considered to be a glutton by many who witnessed his eating habits. He would go out to fancy restaurants and consume entire meals by simply tipping back the bowl or plate and eating everything at once. Despite his eating habits, his cooking skills were well known and his pasta fagiole was renowned by many as the best in New York City.
Paulie was also well known for his paranoia. He was very careful about putting his name on things and making phone calls. He never used private telephones, only public pay phones on the street. Even his boat docked in Sheepshead Bay had no name. He didn't like to speak out loud in public about dealings, instead always whispering.
At the height of Paulie's career, he was raking in $25,000 a day in earnings from his illegal operations. He had a massive network of gambling, bookmakers, loan sharks and numbers operators throughout NYC and beyond. Paul Vario was also the "owner" of the Kennedy Airport and conducted all truck hijacking operations there with his underling - James Burke.