It doesn’t matter that he’s balding, puffy, and newly married to Jenny McCarthy. To fangirlz of a certain age, Donnie Wahlberg will always be the pouting, bandanna’d bad boy from New Kids on the Block. And although he long ago asserted himself as a bonafide Hollywood A-lister, we’ll always remember the perennially shirtless Mark Wahlberg (i.e. “Marky Mark”) gracing Calvin Klein billboards in his underwear, or dropping hot beats with his hip-hop band, The Funky Bunch. And forget about the fact that Brooklyn needs another burger chain like it needs another boutique hotel on Wythe Avenue, because somehow, the brother’s meat patty franchise, Wahlburgers, seems perfectly suited to Coney Island, which (before we were unduly concerned about UVB rays and swimming in raw sewage, that is), was where we spent summers during our carefree pre-teen days, stretched out on the sand with dog-eared copies of BOP, singing along to “Hanging Tough” on our Walkman.
So yes, we were kind of tickled to learn that the brothers’ Boston-based eatery has seven New York outposts in the works, the first of which is slated to launch in Coney Island by the first of May (the precise location will be revealed on an upcoming episode of Wahlburgers, the pleasantly doofy A&E reality series). And while we’ll probably take a pass on the “dirty water-style” House Dog (Nathan’s or die), options like the “O.F.D” (Originally from Dorchester) Creekstone Farms Black Angus burger topped with tomato jam, bacon, swiss and sautéed mushrooms seem custom-made for scarfing on the boardwalk. You’ll also find pint-sized “Smahlburgers” for the tykes, “Wahlfaves,” such as Crispy Haddock Sandwiches, and Alma’s Macaroni Salad (recipe courtesy of Mark and Donnie’s mom), made with elbows, sweet peppers, red onions, and creamy mayo dressing.
Not that you should count on frequent Wahl-brothers sightings, as they actually sold their New York franchise rights to John Cestare, the man behind Big Apple Burgers. Who, let’s be honest, is probably much better equipped to run a chain of restaurants, although we seriously doubt he looks quite as dreamy preening and shirtless, rocking Reebok high tops and bandanas.
For more info, check the Coney Island Wahlburger’s Facebook