"It's great -- but it's also been stressful," says Hosea Rosenberg on being so close to finally opening his own restaurant. Blackbelly Market has been slowly taking shape in its shopping center location on the east side of Boulder, and the Top Chef winner, food-truck operator and caterer says that, barring any further unforeseen circumstances, the eatery and market should be opening in the first or second week of November.
Delays have included issues with the roof and electrical wiring in the building that originally served as the commissary kitchen and cafeteria for nearby Ball Aerospace and was also the home to La Hacienda Mexican Restaurant and Minglewood, a Grateful Dead-themed joint that closed more than a year ago.
Once open, Blackbelly Market will feature a menu centered on whole-animal butchery and an all-day market peddling grab-and-go food as well as house-made salumi, fresh sausage, and beef, pork and lamb cuts. The front of the restaurant will be dedicated to the gleaming, white-tiled market, which will open at 7 a.m. daily offering sandwiches, breakfast burritos -- Rosenberg is a New Mexico native -- and other fresh-made items that customers can take to-go or enjoy at high-top tables made from reclaimed boxcar flooring.
Beyond the market and separated by a glass and steel salumi case, the dining room, bar and expansive chef's counter will give Rosenberg and his staff a chance to highlight signature dishes like rotisserie porchetta and chicken, smoked meats and daily butcher cuts. "We're hoping to do some of the best food in the state," says Rosenberg.
Much of the pork and lamb will be sourced from his Blackbelly Farm, while local produce will come from other nearby Boulder County growers like Isabelle Farm. Blackbelly Farm should be ramping up vegetable production next year, too, he notes.
The kitchen is big enough to also serve as the commissary kitchen for Rosenberg's catering business, and includes a walk-in cooler outfitted for breaking down whole animal sides. "The health department loves this," he adds, noting that the meat temperature never goes above 40 degrees while it's being broken down into cuts for both the menu and the butcher counter.
General manager and beverage director Michael Cerretani, whose previous experience includes Bitter Bar and Session Kitchen, promises a casual atmosphere that will serve as both a neighborhood gathering place and dining destination for those seeking out Rosenberg's award-winning cooking. Calling himself a "cocktail nerd," Cerretani says he plans to offer a balanced selection of local draft beers (and a few large-format bottles), a stylistically correct list of wines, and a creative menu of craft cocktails. With patios at the front and back of the restaurant, the GM and chef agree that Blackbelly will be an excellent happy-hour destination.
The location isn't exactly in one of Boulder's hot or sexy areas, but Rosenberg says it's in a high-traffic area near major office parks and residential neighborhoods where other new eateries are finding success, Fate Brewing Company and BRU Handbuilt Ales and Eats among them. The low-key location suits Rosenberg's style: "I like to under-promise and over-deliver," he says.
He also likes to run a tight kitchen with a small crew; "We're not a tweezer kitchen," he explains. Instead, he keeps menu descriptions simple while adding surprises to the plate.
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Rosenberg has certainly been busy in the years since he won season five of Top Chef, slowly building the Blackbelly brand with the farm, truck and catering business. But for those of us watching his career, the restaurant looks to be the culmination of his efforts -- and certainly the place to sample the cooking that made him famous.