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'Wahlburgers' is all about family, burgers, and Boston

Posted by Katie McLeod  January 22, 2014 11:49 PM

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From left: Mark Wahlberg, chef Paul Wahlberg, Alma Wahlberg, and Donnie Wahlberg at the opening night party for Wahlburgers Restaurant in Hingham in 2011.

Who's hungry? Have you tried a Thanksgiving burger? What about a Double Decker? Or perhaps you've bit into the Triple Decker, named after the Wahlbergs' childhood home. If so, you've been to Wahlburgers, the famous family's burger joint in Hingham.

If you have patronized the eatery, there's a good chance you've spied Paul Wahlberg, chef and brother to his actor siblings, Mark and Donnie. He works there as well as at Alma Nove, the family's upscale restaurant across the street where he serves as executive chef.

The family matriarch, Alma Wahlberg, works with Paul at the restaurant named after her and her nine children (that's where "nove" comes in). You can often find her up front, welcoming guests and mingling.

This all sets the tone for the new funny-quirky-lovable A&E reality series named after Wahlburgers. Paul and Alma take center stage, with humor and insights from Donnie and movie star mojo from Mark. Two things are clear from the start: This show is about family, and beloved Alma is in charge.

The show develops a few recurring themes: Which brother is Alma's favorite? Where will a new Wahlburgers location open? Paul is extremely busy. Will he accept his new assistant into his life? These questions are repeated so much it's easy to wonder if anything else will happen this season, but reasons to believe interesting things lie ahead are eventually revealed.

As the brothers weigh their options for growing their business, we see their love for each other, their mother, and their city. The Dorchester boys are all grown up, but they still call Boston home -- the perfect segue into the discussion about where to open the next Wahlburgers. Paul pitches the idea of Boston to his celebrity brothers.

What were the takeaways? Some quotes from the episode worth remembering:

"Every single burger comes down to who we are, and where we came from." -- Paul
"I am a proud Dorchester girl. Always have been, always will be." -- Alma
"When push comes to shove, and you need your family, your family needs to be there." -- Alma
"Mark's still the baby. I used to call him monkey because he had this raggedy monkey that I wouldn't let him throw away." -- Alma
"Mark's my kid brother. He's the baby in the family, but when he shows up, he brings the circus along with him." -- Paul
"When we were kids, dinnertime was a special time ... sharing anything positive was always a special time for us." -- Donnie
"At the end of the day, everybody loves the food" -- Paul

Donnie, star of "Blue Bloods" on CBS, executive producer of TNT's "Boston's Finest," and New Kids on the Block member (how he will go down in history), tweeted throughout the show. Here are some highlights:

And he retweeted this adorable pic:

So what's next this season? The preview reveals Donnie's girlfriend, Jenny McCarthy, makes an appearance and perhaps even gets the burger of the month named after her. We get a sneak peek of a Wahlburger jingle ... for real? This looks hilarious. Is the family opening a restaurant in China? Sock football between Donnie and Mark (what is that?)? Lastly, we're left with the thought that Wahlburgers is bringing the family closer together.

One final question:

What did you think of the show? Will you watch again? And more importantly, are you craving a burger, too? Discuss in the comments. The show airs Wednesdays at 10:30 p.m. on A&E.

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Katie McLeod is's features editor.

Rachel Raczka is a producer for Lifestyle and Arts & Entertainment at

Emily Wright is an Arts & Entertainment producer at

Sarah Rodman is a TV and music critic for the Boston Globe.

Meghan Colloton is a Things to Do and Arts & Entertainment producer at

Michael Brodeur is the assistant arts editor for the Boston Globe, covering pop music, TV, and nightlife.