Hosea Rosenberg's Blackbelly Market is set to open next Tuesday, November 11, in a nondescript east Boulder location that belies the complexity of the operation inside. With his new, expansive kitchen, Rosenberg will run a catering business, a fine-dining restaurant, a salumeria making fresh sausage and cured meats, a butcher shop and market selling housemade packaged foods, and a deli counter serving grab-and-go breakfast items starting at 7 a.m.
It all may seem a little ambitious, but it's been part of Rosenberg's master plan ever since -- or even before -- he won season five of Bravo's Top Chef. "It's deliberate," he states. "Slow and steady wins the race." And while he admits that he would like to have opened the restaurant sooner, the rest -- the early farm-to-table dinners, the upscale catering business, the food truck and the farm -- were all puzzle pieces meant to build a brand that would come together in what is now Blackbelly Market.
"I really needed to be back on the line," says Rosenberg of the final push to get the restaurant doors open. Even with all the planning and running of the business, it's obvious that the chef's passion is for the ingredients and the food. He talks about each minor detail as if it's the most important part of the entire operation: the pulverized sea salt for the frites that sticks to the fries rather than falling to the bottom of the bowl; the grits sourced from "Grit Girl" Georgeanne Ross in Mississippi, who wouldn't sell to Blackbelly until she was convinced they would do right by the ingredient; the 400 pounds of Hatch green chiles that a friend drove up from New Mexico so that the kitchen would have enough of what Rosenberg considers the only real green chile to get them through the winter.
"I want to put myself on the plate," he adds, noting that the posole and other menu details are part of his New Mexico upbringing. But there's as much sophistication as there is comfort on this menu. Hand-made cavatelli pasta have ricotta cheese kneaded into the dough, while a fresh chimichurri receives a hit of lemon just before plating to sharpen the flavors.
General manager Michael Cerretani is focusing on the front of the house and the beverage program, which he says "is not confusing, scary or intimidating. We're a restaurant first, not a cocktail bar." The wine list emphasizes the grape varietals rather than the vintner; the cocktail list is brief and based on recognizable standards. "My foundation in cocktails is all classical," Cerretani adds. "I wrote a list of fifty cocktails any bartender should know." So in addition to the house's mixed drinks, guests will also feel comfortable ordering their favorites without fear of a blank stare from behind the bar.
So what can customers expect? The restaurant itself will open at 4 p.m. next Tuesday for full dinner service; the market will open the following day at 7 a.m. with breakfast items available daily until 10 a.m. For now, Blackbelly won't be open for lunch, but that will soon change. In the meantime, Rosenberg and Cerretani expect a booming happy hour, from 4 to 6 p.m. daily, due to the restaurant's location in a business district on a major commuter corridor between downtown Boulder and the eastern suburbs.
Meat lovers will be able to purchase prime cuts as well as a variety of fresh and cured sausages and other meats hung to age in the temperature- and humidity-controlled display case to take home. Rosenberg says adventurous home cooks can purchase pig heads or trotters, and that anything not in stock can be on hand within 72 hours. For Thanksgiving, he's planning whole brined turkeys that customers can cook at home, or pre-roasted rotisserie turkey that will be ready to serve.
Keep reading for more photos of Blackbelly Market.
Keep reading for more photos of Blackbelly Market. Keep reading for more photos of Blackbelly Market.