One might expect a chef like Hosea Rosenberg to open his highly anticipated restaurant on Boulder's Pearl Street. Instead, the Top Chef Season 5 winner chose a space in East Boulder, off Arapahoe and 55th, close to neighbors like BRU, Ozo Coffee, Dizzy's Donuts, Avery Brewing, and Pica's. There, in one week, Rosenberg will unveil Blackbelly.
"I was not looking to open a restaurant here. I needed a commissary kitchen, one that would accommodate our smoker, our catering vehicles, and our kitchen prep requirements," Rosenberg shares. "Commissary kitchens and restaurants have very different requirements and at first we didn't think they were compatible, but that's what we did here: the front kitchen is the restaurant kitchen and the back kitchen is the catering one," he explains.
That means that half of the 3,300 square foot space is occupied by kitchen space, including a stunning rotisserie oven and a large fully refrigerated meat production room where whole animals are processed, fresh sausage is made, and charcuterie will soon be crafted. Blackbelly is in the process of submitting HAACP plans (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points), necessary for the charcuterie operation.
The other half includes 85 seats at low tables and the bar, as well as the community table at the front of the space. That front of the space is the deli, a place from where Blackbelly will serve breakfast burritos, grab and go lunch, as well as fresh cuts of meats and charcuterie.
With Blackbelly, Rosenberg aims to "toe the line between refined and craveable, every-man type- food that is approachable and recognizable." Part of that program is having things like the pork green chile on the menu. "I am from New Mexico and green chile is very important to us. It is not a fussy dish, it is soulful, the way gumbo is soulful for New Orleans," Rosenberg muses. This green chile will be available in quarts to go in the deli.
Another simple, yet perfected dish is the house-ground burger. The chef combines chuck, sirloin, and short rib and serves his patty on a Grateful Bread bun with Tillamook cheddar cheese. There's one other secret ingredient to the burger, what the chefs call the Booya, a melted bone marrow fat combined with butter. That gets slathered on the burger to add another flavor dimension.
But Rosenberg is a skilled chef whose technique and keen ability to combine ingredients can handle a bigger canvas. Dishes like the seared duck breast with root vegetable hash, Brussels sprouts, and pomegranate seeds and the Skuna Bay king salmon with cauliflower, apple, pickled celery, and pepitas showcase his ability to create refined dishes where texture and flavor come together in irresistible combinations.
One thing Rosenberg is fully committed to is the quality of his ingredients. That is why he is thrilled to be working with purveyors like Garcia Tortilla, a local fresh tortilla-maker, Grateful Bread for all his bread needs, Georgeanne Ross in Mississippi 'the Grit Girl' who sells...you guessed, grits, and Anson Mills for unusual grains as the faro verde he plans to feature on the menu soon.
The food at Blackbelly will be complemented by a beverage program curated by general manager Michael Cerretani. The former bar manager of Session Kitchen created a cocktail list that is approachable and seasonal with fall-centric drinks like the High Tea (Old Forester 100, cinnamon oolong tea, fresh lemon, and Zwack) and the Pumpkin Whiskey Sour (Rittenhouse Rye, Roundhouse Pumpkin Cordial, lemon, lime, and white egg). The wine list selection is meant to complement the food and be affordable and unintimidating. Wines by the glass range from a California Pinot Noir, available to two Nebbiolos. On the white wine selection, there's a California Chardonnay by the glass, along side a Chablis and a dry Austrian Riesling. Wines here are listed by grape varietals to provide guests a quicker roadmap to the right choice for them. And then there are beers, six of them available on draft with only one straying from Colorado, a Belgian sour.
When it opens, Blackbelly will serve dinner seven days a week starting at 4 p.m. A happy hour will run from 4 to 6 every day and it will feature items like meatballs, potatoes and parts (chicken parts those are and potatoes cooked in the bottom of the rotisseried chicken), and a daily charcuterie. Select beers will be $4 and wines will be offered for $6.
The market will be open for grab and go breakfast on weekdays from 7 to 10 a.m., replacing the service that Darth Tater, Blackbelly food truck little brother, provided out of the parking lot of the restaurant since September. Lunch will be added to the line-up on November 24 and brunch is a consideration early next year.