Paul Wahlberg Dishes On Opening A Wahlburgers In His Hometown, Launching A Food Truck, & Changing Up The Menu At Alma Nove

WahlburgersPhoto Credit: Wahlburgers

Siblings that couldn’t be further apart in the culinary world, but come together under one talented chef to make incredible food magic, Wahlburgers and Alma Nove have many similarities to the Wahlberg brothers themselves. Like Paul, Alma Nove (named after the matriarch with a nod to her nine children) is the older, more mature sibling while Wahlburgers is the more boisterous of the two (we still love you, Donnie and Mark).

Unlike his camera-ready brothers, Paul Wahlberg, the camera-shy executive chef, prefers to show off his creative culinary talent at Alma Nove while whipping up some of his favorite hometown classics at Wahlburgers. Despite the family dynamics and fun rivalry portrayed on their reality television show on A&E, the brothers from Boston are proudly bringing the Wahlburgers name to their hometown of Dorchester. Later this year, the booming burger brand will be the flagship restaurant opening at the 700,000-square-foot, mixed use South Bay Center, not too far from where the famous brothers were raised.

The constantly expanding Wahlburgers brand has extended beyond Massachusetts since opening at the Hingham Shipyard in 2011, and now has a nationwide and Canadian presence with more than 20 locations. Did we also mention they have several more locations opening later this year? (The Wahlberg trio owns the Massachusetts locations and franchises the out-of-state properties).

WahlburgersPhoto Credit: Wahlburgers

We caught up yesterday with Paul to talk about opening a location in his hometown, launching a food truck and changing up the menu at Alma Nove.

Tell us about opening the Wahlburgers’ South Bay location in your hometown of Dorchester later this year and how this one will be different.

We are working on subtle changes to the appearance. There is going to be an active dining room reminiscent of the one we grew up in. This location will have more of a homey feel. We are really excited about opening this location.

And a food truck is in the works?

Yes, we are hoping to have it operational sometime this spring.

WahlburgersPhoto Credit: Wahlburgers

Why do you think Wahlburgers, A&E’s reality show series (which has been picked up for a ninth season) about the fast-casual burger restaurants you own with partner-brothers Mark and Donnie Wahlberg, has become such a hit?

I think it’s as simple as people love burgers, and we just try make the best burgers we can.

What is your favorite burger? Mark’s? Donnie’s?

My favorite burger is the Our Burger. Now that’s a hamburger. It’s a one-third pound burger topped with cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, our signature sauce and pickles. Mark loves the Thanksgiving Turkey Burger with stuffing, mayo, orange-cranberry sauce and roasted butternut squash. Donnie loves the BBQ Bacon Burger topped with white cheddar cheese, bacon, our own BBQ sauce and avocado spread.

Wahlburgers Our BurgerPhoto Credit: Wahlburgers

How did you first became interested in cooking?

I worked catering as a kid for Joseph’s Catering and fell in love with it. When they slowed down, I started working at a place called Trolleys. That’s when I found the reason I was put on this earth was to be in the kitchen.

Do you prefer burgers or Bolognese?

That’s hard to say. I eat more burgers than anything because they are quick and easy, but I love food. I am always interested in trying something new and different.

Alma NovePhoto Credit: Alma Nove

You changed up the menu at Alma Nove in the fall.  Why did you think that was necessary?

I try to change the menu to be seasonal without taking away people’s favorites. We are going to be doing some new dishes for the spring at Alma Nove with more seasonal ingredients like ramps and fava beans and go a little heavier on the seafood offerings.

With menu items that feature government cheese, Mom’s sloppy Joe, Alma’s macaroni salad, and burgers like the OFD (originally from “Dorchestah”), why do you continue to have such a pride and passion for Boston that is reflected in your menu?

It’s home, and it’s fun because some people grow up in a small town, leave and never come back while others have that pride where they are from and stay. We have the Celtics, Bruins, Patriots and Red Sox and it’s always fun to follow the ebb and flow the way that goes. Boston is just a great place to be from.

Paul WahlbergPhoto Credit: Alma Nove