The Butcher Block in Northeast Minneapolis Now Open

Katie Cannon / Heavy Table
Katie Cannon / Heavy Table

After all the hype about the opening of The Butcher Block, the new trattoria is now officially open. Located in the former Fugaise space in Northeast Minneapolis, the eatery has been touted for its new decor (some paint and a few pictures on the wall), diverse menu (sophisticated Italian plus 29 varieties of chicken wings) and passionate chef, Chef Darin Koch (formerly of I Nonni). The Heavy Table stopped by Saturday night to check it out.

The menu is undeniably exciting. Pastas ($13 to $14) such as the Pork Ragú, spaghetti smothered in a slow cooked braised pork ragú, and Rigatoncini alla Gricia, with guanciali, arugula, onion, and pecorino cheese, are enticing first courses, and secondis ($17) are an equally tempting assortment of lamb chops, steak, short ribs, and fish of the day. For diners interested in a more casual meal, there are several options for burgers and sandwiches.

Although the late night menu ($8) is not yet available (the waitress was unsure when it would debut), the options listed looked tasty with selections like the Tuna and Egg with Harissa, Pork Tonato (sliced pork with a creamy tuna sauce served with an egg), and the Fried Rice Omelet. The Butcher Block is open until 4am on weekends and 2am on weekdays, making it one of the few truly committed late-night games in town.

And, as promised, there are the 29 varieties of wings ($9 for 12 wings).

Katie Cannon / Heavy Table
Katie Cannon / Heavy Table

Traditional flavors such as BBQ, teriyaki, buffalo, and jerk coexist with other, more unusual offerings such as green coconut curry, cranberry chile, country fried, pesto / salsa verde, and cacciatore. Tempted by the array, we tried two varieties: the Mango Curry and the House.

Meaty and with crispy skin, these wings were fantastic. The mango curry featured a subtle mango and peanut undertone that reminded us of chicken satay. They had a moderate spice level that lingered lightly, but only until relieved with a quick sip of beer. As for the House wings, sesame and soy as the prominent flavors made these an immediate favorite. The existence of a number of similarly themed wings raises the question of how much overlap might exist between similar flavors, but the overall quality is indisputable.

As can be expected with a very recent opening, there were some tasting glitches — an otherwise inspired ravioli dish suffered from a crushing excess of mint — but, overall, The Butcher Block’s inspired menu lives up to the hype and promises great things to come.

The Butcher Block
308 E Hennepin Ave
Minneapolis, MN 55414


  1. HungryinSW

    I can’t wait to try this place. I Nonni has been a favorite for quite some time and I’m seeing all my favorite faces on the menu – pork ragu, guanciali, arugula, harissa… Thanks for all the intel.

  2. sweetpea

    Been there. Tried it loved it. Thanks for the great food. This is by far my favorite italian to date.

  3. tomturner

    the butcher block exceeded its expectations. Our food was extraordinary, the wings are to die for and there are 29 flavors! The griliata mista was one of the best meat entrees i have ever had. for sure will be going back!!!

  4. Josh

    The menu looked amazing. The execution left a sour taste in my mouth.

    On Monday (6/29/09), our office thought that we would try The Butcher Block’s box lunches.

    I called their phone number as was presented with 3 options, kitchen, office, and hostess. I tried each extension twice to have it ring and ring. The 7th call was answered. I placed our order, only three of us had opted in. They were out of both salads that were on their menu and subbed them (it happens). I was told that the order would be ready in 10 minutes.

    It took me about 15 minutes to drive there, park 3 blocks away and walk in. Upon arriving, I was told that the order was just being finished up and would be out in ‘seconds’.

    I tried to pay while waiting, but was reassured that the food would be right out and the staff disappeared into the kitchen.

    There were SIX people on staff. I was the ONLY customer. One of the staff even commented I was only the fourth order since they had opened.

    I continued to wait for FIFTY (yes, 5-0) minutes to get our food. The restaurant was sweltering without air conditioning. Not once was I offered a water, beverage or discount.

    After the fifty minutes had passed (now up to 65 minutes since I placed the order), the food was finally done. We had ordered Mountain Dew as our beverages with the box lunch. They only had two cans of it in the entire restaurant and had to sub that as well. Not the end of the world, but if I’m the fourth customer…who planned out inventory?

    After I got the food, the POS (cash register system) failed. I understand that sort of thing happens, but it really frustrated me as I had been waiting over an hour already and had offered to pay while I was waiting and was denied.

    Finally get back to the office to try the food. I can only speak for my order; I got the bbq pulled pork sandwich. The meat was poorly trimmed with huge gobs of (connective tissue?) comprising at least a third of the sandwich that was incredibly tough and unappetizing. The roll looked good in appearance, but was absolutely awful. It was incredibly tough to chew through and dry. I could only force myself to eat about half of the sandwich before giving up and getting something else to eat.

    I am incredibly disappointed in both the quality of the food, and the service. Unless this restaurant makes some drastic changes, they will not last.

    I will give them one more shot by dining in and will post about that experience when it happens.

  5. sweetpea

    Tried box lunch on tuesday. Had a cuban and the prime rib. Both were very good. However much prefered the prime rib. Salads were fresh. For 9.50 it was well worth it. Got some great cookies too.


    My girlfriend and I vistited on the fourth and the food wwas fantastic! The house recipie sauce for the wings is absolutley magical, and the wings have a perfectly cooked crispy snap that makes you want to clean them right down to the bone. I had the riggatochini alla cocca and the guanciale was a delicious addition to a hearty, straightforward and eminently satisfying pasta. Finished off with creme brule (extremely well done) for under $40, I can’t reccomend them enough!

  7. NKP

    Our book club met there last night. The service was outstanding (Bravo, Ben!) and we enjoyed the variety of flavors and choices of wine.
    our favorites –
    Antipasti :
    Pomodoro Basilico: Crisp crostini, firm diced tomato dressed in a balsamic vinegar marinade.

    Grilled octopus with mixed greens, lemon & olive oil: beautifully finished, with a smoky firmness that recalls a flavorful steak while erasing all memory of past encounters with rubbery overcooked textures.

    Ceci e limone (Chickpea & lemon) Crostini: Crisp fresh sliced baguette coated with beguilingly thick, smooth and tart spread.

    Pasta :
    Rigatonchini alla Cocca: Guanciale, fresh tomato, smoked paprika, mozzarella & fresh basil.

    Vegetarian pasta: by request, the chef created an inspiringly simple and pleasing spaghetti tossed with olive oil, lemon, garlic and fresh spinach leaves.

    Grigliata Mista:

    A variety of grilled meats – we enjoyed two choices:
    roast beef tenderloins in a savory mushroom sauce accompanied by roasted asiago potatoes, and

    flavorful, firm beef livers sauteed with onions and presented with grilled, marinated asparagus.

    ALL the deserts we tried were very exceptional:

    Crème Brule: A rich custard base with burnt sugar. True smooth and creamy perfection.
    Torta di Cioccolato: Chocolate torte with caramel, sea salt & olive oil: complex, yet not overpowering. The caramel plays well with the sea salt.
    Torta di Formaggio : Cheesecake prepared daily by our pastry chef: truly divine! flavorful, yet light and honest

  8. mark o

    My wife and I ate there last night, Oct 9, we loved the look of the place. Great price on a bottle of wine. But that was about it. The salad special was $10, it stated blueberries, and blue chesse. Ok, there were 3 blueberrys, and 1/2 teaspoon of blue cheese, come on, what’s the deal here, the spinach and dressing were okay, but to charge $10 for this was insulting. I also had the Lamb and mint pasta dish off the menu. Great idea, but I would never order it again.

    Ok, the dessert was terrific, the $15 bottle of Argentina wine was superb. I spent $100 on our two dinners including tip, and no bread basket. The B Block didn’t win me over,

  9. lizzy

    My partner and I ate there last night. We were with a large group of 18. The service was slow which was due to one waitress for the entire table. The decor was simple, undefined with little ambiance. We had the grilled octopus over a bed of greens. It was smokey charred and a little chewy. Not enough for two to share if you were hungry. We then ordered the duck breast and beet argula salad. The salad was small and had thinly sliced beets that you could not taste. It was over powered by the champgane vinegrett- too heavy on the vinegar. Lightly sprinkled with pine nuts and cheese.
    The duck was tender- for a breast maybe a little undercooked and was served with a we thought was mushrooms, pancetta and ridicco- once again over flavored with balsalmic vinegrette. The couple sittng next to us offered us a taste of their meal. The top sirloin had good flavor but was over cooked and thinly cut. The fetticcine bologense was awful- we told her to send it back- she thouht it tasted like hamburger helper- I thought it tasted spoiled- presentation was awful, a heap of slop in a bowl.
    The wine was good and reasonably priced especially with ordering a bottle. I have eaten in Rome recently and I am not impressed with his food. The wings?? Not sure why a Roman Italian restaraunt would have 27 different flavors of chicken wings. We were not able to order any since those were only available after 9 pm.
    For the price I was not impressed with the ambiance or taste of the food. Small portions for a large price that was lacking in freshness and taste!

  10. Kt Scho

    My husband and I thought we would give the place a try and also came across a discount coupon. The entrance to the place alone give ones a strange feeling, It is a long, narrow, office/strip mall looking hallway you have to walk down before you even get a look at the place. The atmosphere is also lacking in any kind of overall appeal. And the service was very, very poor. Slow, not versed on drinks or wine, lacking in attention to detail, etc., etc. Every other table around us was also quite frustrated with the service of their servers, too. There was a large rehearsal dinner party, which our server kept blaming for the wait, but this was obviously something booked months in advance, hire a few extra servers for the night instead of compromising every other diner’s experience. That being said, the food was very good. Beef carpaccio, capellini pasta dish, and lamb were awesome. Very, very good. Perfectly cooked and seasoned. Great mix and weight of flavors. However, the service was so bad, we will probably never go back. I felt that everything was absolutely wrong about the place except the food!

  11. Geir

    I rarely send something back, but if it was “awful” and you are a paying customer, you are entitled to inform the restaurant. But I think the reverse policy is important too- if you order something and find it wonderful, let the chef know! Who doesn’t want to be told they did a great job?!

    I have friends who have worked in some very well known restaurants and as much as I am loathe to admit it, I am aware of more than one instance where the kitchen staff (sometimes in full view of the chef) have done some pretty horrible things to the food being sent out as a “replacement” for a meal that was sent back. For that reason alone, I never send anything back.

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