Viterelli was born to Italian immigrants in the Bronx, New York. Before Viterelli became an actor, he had befriended director Leo Penn (actor Sean Penn's father), who initially tried but failed to persuade Viterelli to pursue acting because of his unique and typically Italian looks. Some years later, Sean Penn approached Viterelli and asked him to try out for a part as a favor; Viterelli did and went on to appear in State of Grace and then in over 40 other movies.
Viterelli died on January 28, 2004, aged 66, in Las Vegas, Nevada due to a severe stomach hemorrhage, a complication of just-completed heart surgery. His last film role was as "Jelly" in Harold Ramis's Analyze That.; his final acting credit was as a mobster in a 2004 Super Bowl TV commercial ad for Staples, Inc.