First Look

First Look: Chef Hosea Rosenberg Opens Blackbelly Butcher in Boulder

Boulder shoppers looking for quality meat cuts, pre-made foods and a quick breakfast or lunch have known about the tiny nook inside chef-restaurateur Hosea Rosenberg's Blackbelly restaurant in east Boulder for some time, but because of space limitations, the chef's vision for a complete, meat-centered market was never fully realized. Not until this week, that is, when Blackbelly Butcher opened next door in a space that was previously a doughnut shop. With the added square footage, Rosenberg's new deli and retail butcher shop is offering a wide range of pork, beef and lamb cuts as well as housemade salumi, charcuterie, deli meats and a menu board of soups, sandwiches, salads and sweet treats.

The meat program at Blackbelly Butcher is headed by Nate Singer, who has been with Rosenberg since he was nineteen. Over the past ten years, the two have worked together to build the company into what it is today. "Nate was right there at the beginning with me," Rosenberg recalls. "It was just the two of us. And now it's a 110-man show."

Other than a stint at Maine Meats in New England, Singer has been with Rosenberg for his entire career. At the butcher shop, he's working with Carter Country Meats in Wyoming for beef, Clint and Mary Kay Buckner's Boulder Lamb for lamb, and McDonald Family Farm for pork. In addition to offering dry-aged beef and other roasts, chops and steaks, he's also making a dizzying array of fresh and cured sausage, terrines, pâtés, cured and roasted deli meats, and bacon. A chalkboard will list items available each day, along with a note to customers that they should ask for something they want — whole rabbit, pigs' feet or offal, for example — that they don't see.

The whole butcher shop and kitchen are open and in full view of customers, and a lively din spreads from the dining area up front back to the kitchen. "We call it the rock-and-roll butcher," Rosenberg says. That attitude encompasses the food, too; along with traditional Italian and French preparations, you'll find an octopus terrine, Pennsylvania-style scrapple and even a bacon kit for home cooks.
The expansion was long overdue, according to Rosenberg. "We were splitting at the seams," he explains, "and we've always wanted to expand the butcher program — and there was a demand for it."

The new space came together quickly; Rosenberg credits the hard work of Duggan Construction for making it happen. The front of the shop has seating for breakfast and lunch guests and will soon also have shelf space for a small selection of dry goods. There's also a cooler stocked with ready-made items like meatballs in sauce, slaws, salads and pickles to be eaten right away or reheated at home. In the morning, a selection of house-baked muffins, sticky buns and other daily specials (like the occasional doughnuts) are available, along with breakfast burritos and a.m. sandwiches.
Lunchtime transitions to hot and cold sandwiches, all made with meats cooked and/or cured in-house on bread from three different bakeries, including the Grateful Bread Company and a local Mexican baker who provides bolillo rolls for Blackbelly's tortas. Rosenberg says he'll also be rolling out happy hour from 3 to 7 p.m. beginning in May, with a separate menu of meat and cheese boards, build-your-own tacos and maybe even a sighting of the rare "uni-corn dog."

Blackbelly Butcher is currently open from 7 to 11 a.m. for breakfast and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. for lunch. There will also be limited weekend hours. If you're heading over for dinner, the restaurant next door opens daily at 4 p.m.; the butcher counter there is being converted to a salumi table, complete with a Berkel European meat slicer, that groups can reserve for a unique dining experience. Keep reading for more photos of the butcher counter and deli.

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Mark Antonation is the former Westword Food & Drink Editor. In 2018, he was named Outstanding Media Professional by the Colorado Restaurant Association; he's now with the Colorado Restaurant Foundation.
Contact: Mark Antonation