'Sopranos' Star: 'We Paved the Way' for 'Jersey Shore'

1/27/2011 2:13 PM PST

'Sopranos' Star: 'We Paved the Way' for 'Jersey Shore'

We finally know who to blame for the rise of "Jersey Shore" -- and ironically, it's one of the greatest television shows of all-time ... "The Sopranos."

TMZ ran into "Sopranos" star Joseph Gannascoli at Vincent's Restaurant in New York yesterday -- where he admitted that his show "paved the way" for Snooki & company ... who also play Italian stereotypes on TV.

And in a horrible twist of fate ... Jwoww and her reality show crew also showed up to the restaurant.

They must have given the milk jugs a day off.