De Vega Brothers | Manteca
Story by Veronica
Warmth and aroma are the two major ingredients that make up any good Italian
restaurant, and you'll quickly discover both at this popular Manteca dining
spot. Owner and lead chef Alberto Vega hit the right combination of old world
Italian charm and serving up mounds of pasta, just like mamma used to make.
Straddling the fence between fine dining and casual cuisine, a vibrant mural
of a quaint Italian countryside covers one wall while the restaurant's while
table linens add an elegant touch. Originally from Mexico, Vega trained as an
apprentice chef at Angelina's in Stockton, where he learned everything he knows
about cooking and running a restaurant. "When I first came to America, I worked
in the fields, at a pizza place, and a car wash," Vega said. "Then I got a job
as a cook at Angelina's, and it is there that I learned to create and prepare my
own Italian dishes."
Vega prides himself on experimenting with different flavors; his house
specialties--Veal and Chicken Piccata--are requested daily by regulars. His
staff and customers also enjoy taste testing his experimental cuisine and
provide him with valued feedback. "My customers will say, 'Oh, you need to put
this on the menu, Alberto!' and I will answer, 'OK, OK, I will,'" Vega says with
- San Joaquin Magazine
Vega cooks up success Italian-style
By Jason Campbell
Staff reporter of
Manteca (Calif.) Bulletin
Alberto Vega only has to look as far as the seats inside of his restaurant to
gauge how well his business is doing.
And if it's a Friday or Saturday you're likely to find him smiling.
Business is that good.
Ever since he took over what was a foundering Chinese food operation on
Yosemite Avenue six years ago, Vega has transformed the relatively humble
operation into something that Manteca residents simply can't get enough of--De
Vega Brothers Italian Cuisine.
Things have gone so well in fact that next week the second family-owned
Italian eatery will be open to the public in Stockton--marking the true
culmination of his lifelong dream.
"For as long as I can remember I've always wanted to own my own restaurant,"
Vega said smiling widely. "And when I got the chance I knew that I could really
make it something unique."
Despite the successes that Vega--who operates the business with his brother
Rafael--has had since bringing his charming old-world flavor to Manteca, you're
not likely to find him doing anything but what has made him successful.
Day in and day out he's doing everything from washing dishes to seating
customers--taking a hands-on approach that you're not likely to find many
In his eyes, a restaurant owner can only determine how well he's doing by how
his guests respond.
"If for example a customer has a complaint and I'm not here, I don't hear it
right away and have the chance to make it right," he said matter-of-factly. "I
need to take care of my customers."
Almost 15 years ago, he got his start in the restaurant business at the
popular Stockton pasta house Angelina's--cooking up the Italian delicacies that
have made the place an institution.
While paying close attention to the recipes and manner in which things are
prepared his own ambitions began to foster.
And that didn't always garner the respect or admiration of his co-workers.
When out on location catering parties in some of Stockton's more exclusive
neighborhoods like Brookside, Vega proclaimed one day to his boss that he would
in 10 years not only in fact own his own restaurant but a house like the one
they were serving in as well--something that drew sharp criticism and snickers
from his co-workers.
But through nothing short hard-work and dedication, his dreams were realized
nine years later when the first dish came out of the De Vega Brothers kitchen.
The house in Brookside came shortly thereafter.
"The restaurant business has to be your life," he says of his work ethic. "I
learned a lot while I was working at Angelina's, and it helped prepare me for
what was in my future.
"This is my dream and I'm living it everyday."
Being that he himself had humble roots, Vega knows what to look for when it
comes to picking his staff--known for providing customer service regarded as
second to none.
In 19-year-old Seth Borges--who now works hand-in-hand with Vega learning the
tools of the trade in the kitchen--he saw a future gourmet chef in the making.
"This is a blessing for me--I'm so young and doing what it is that I've
always wanted to do," said Borges--who traded in a fast-food get-up for a true
chef's coat. "Just like with Alberto, this is my dream and in less than 10
years, I want to own my own restaurant.
"It's just always been that way."
During the busy dinner hours it isn't uncommon for Borges to be hammering
away at as many as six tickets simultaneously--with each ticket translating into
three or four individual dinners.
That pressure combined with the smiles of satisfied--and full--customers is
all that he needs.
"There's nothing more rewarding that getting compliments back from somebody
who just enjoyed what it is that you created," Borges said. "It really falls
across the board for everybody who works here.
"The compliments are what makes it all worthwhile."
On Monday, Vega will officially branching out his successful venture to
Stockton--opening a second location just around the corner from Brookside home.
He still doesn't know if further expansion will be part of the plan in the
"Right now we're going to put everything we have into the two restaurants,"
Vega said. "We're going to continue to provide the things that our customers
want - whatever that may be."
De Vega Brothers is located at 515 N. Main Street. The restaurant is open
Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.,
Saturday from 12 p.m. to 10 p.m., and Sunday from 12 p.m. to 9 p.m. The second
restaurant opens Monday at 2819 W. March Lane in Suite 1A--just West of I-5. For
more information, call 823-0947 or 957-3839.
- Manteca Bulletin
March 21, 2006
50 of our favorite things
#22: Favorite Ode to Italy--De Vega Brothers
Restaurant's Fabulous Menu
By Stephanie Simons
Where can you get a finger-lickin' plate full of authentic pasta in an
intimate atmosphere that literally transports you to a faraway Italian city? De
Vega Brother's menu, featuring a savory, yet subtle veal piccata, is not only a
testament to the good taste of the Italian, but the wine list is also proof that
they know how to live it up. This menu is the ultimate testament to good eats
and timeless tradition.
- San Joaquin Magazine
De Vega Brothers serves tantalizing Italian dishes
By Cindy Peterson
De Vega Brothers opened as a tiny Italian restaurant on Yosemite Boulevard
near downtown Manteca about 4 years ago. Due to an expanding and hungry
clientele, the family business soon moved to its current location at 515 N. Main
The restaurant seats 75 people, more than double the capacity of the original
site. Nestled in a major wine-producing area, it's no surpise that De Vega
Brothers features an extensive wine list with several local and imported
choices. Even as part of the decor, a bottle of wine is on each table, with the
winery selection rotated every few weeks. Among the pricier bottles are a $60
red Meritage Grand Reserve from Charles B. Mitchell and a $50 merlot from
Delicato's San Bernabe Vineyard in Monterey.
One of the menu's delights is the array of calamari offerings--Calamari
Parmesan, calamari strips, calamari Siciliano and calamari Caesar salad.
Other tantalizing dishes include Pasta del Mare, a spicy mix of salmon,
prawns and scallops with pasta.
Good news for folks who create their Italian favoites at home: De Vega
Brothers sells its homemade meat sauce to go. And owner Rafael Vega says the
family is talking about opening another restaurant perhaps in Modesto or in its
hometown of Stockton.
- Modesto Bee
July 25, 2003
Quality and quaintness
The Italian food's really good at De Vega's in
By Howard Lachtman
Record Staff Writer
There were lace curtains on the windows, Pacarotti on the sound system and
appetizing, authentic pastas that made us forget it was winter outside.
Best of all, Manteca's De Vega Brothers is priced modestly, and within easy
driving distance of Stockton.
We took Highway 99 south to Yosemite Avenue and stopped a block east of Main
Street at De Vega, which brothers Alberto and Rafael opened two months ago.
They've been attracting a loyal following of regulars ever since.
We were welcomed to this modest but quaintly decorated little restaurant by
hostess and server Tina Vega (Rafael's wife) and took a table with the
expectation of fine dining. We weren't disappointed.
We ordered out pasta and were presented with a hearty, well-balanced
minestrone--served piping hot--and a basket of the house garlic bread, fresh
from the oven.
This promising beginning was matched by a Mediterranean pasta of mildly spicy
marinated prawn, with lemon zest, diced tomatoes, cracked black pepper, bell
peppers, garlic and fresh herbs, tossed with rigatoni.
A half-order of this delicious dish was fully satisfying in its blend of
elements, nicely textured noodles and judicious use of spice.
Equally appealing was a linguini and chicken dish with mushrooms, peppers,
dried tomato puree, garlic, herbs, fresh cream and Parmesan cheese. It was
wonderfully flavorful and subtly seasoned, with a coordination of elements that
defines good cooking.
In addition to impressive pastas, De Vega is a good place for ravioli,
tortellini and fettucine Alfredo, as lunch specials or dinners or with roast
The brothers also elevate workaday sandwiches such as the French dip and
If you have dinner in mind, there's a short but select list of steaks, veal
and chicken dinners (with soup or salad) from which to choose, as well as a
calamari Parmesan with choice pasta.
The desserts include tiramisu or chocolate celebration cake.
The view out the window is asphalt and a Goodwill store, but the food on the
table is worth the journey. The wine list is expanding with the additions of
Chianti and pinot grigio.
With the Vega chefs investing their cooking with care and attention to
detail--and Tina charming the folks out front--De Vega Brothers is a ray of
culinary sunshine on Yosemite Street.
- The Record - TimeOut
January 21, 2000
De Vega Bros. offers great food with a warm setting
By Dennis Wyatt
Managing editor of the
Manteca (Calif.) Bulletin
Lunch at De Vega Brothers is the perfect antidote for a dreary overcast
And it is not just a bowl of their killer minestrone soup that will nourish
and warm you.
De Vega Brothers has created a slice of the Italian Riviera right down to
warm hues and a cozy feeling in the semi-formal atmosphere of the North Main
Street restaurant just south of Manteca Ford Mercury.
And to someone who loves pasta and knows that a meal prepared in the classic
style of Italian cuisine may fly in the face of the low carb mantra, it gives
you enough energy to power you through the day: De Vega is a bit of culinary
You would also be wrong to believe that De Vega Brothers is exclusively
Italian. There is a host of lunch options ranging from the teriyaki chicken
sandwich to the De Vega Burger that have the distict De Vega taste but aren't
On our latest lunch visit to De Vega Brothers, Cynthia ordered the French Dip
sandwich and I ordered the tortelline off the lunch pasta menu.
Cynthia is wild about De Vega's French Dip that comes with very thin sliced
baked roast beef on a flaky hot croissant with mayo and mozzarella cheese with a
pile of golden curly fries.
The De Vega tortelline is among the best you'll find in the Northern San
Joaquin Valley. It is never undercooked or overcooked. The pesto and alfredo
sauces are excellent. This time, however, I tried the marinara sauce instead. It
changed the taste somewhat but it was still satisfying.
So how good is the tortelline? The taste is good enough that you want to
savor it. That is how you can generally tell whether I like pasta. Perfectly
cooked pasta makes you want to savor every bite. Anything not close to
perfection is run-of-the-mill and it becomes just carbo loading inhaling time.
De Vega has the most unique dinner salad in town served on a bed of spinach
leaves and lettuce along with diced tomatoes, green and black olives, three
beans, and plenty of mozzarella cheese.
And nothing beats De Vega Brothers' trademark basket of garlic bread. The
fairly thin bread is prepared an order at a time. It virtually melts in your
The lunch menu also includes chicken, tri-tip, salads, veal and calamari
Unlike some restaurants, the dinner menu is significantly different, offering
more chicken and veal options, seafood -- including sauteed scallops that's to
die for with soup or salad and your choice of pasta -- pasta dinner and
charbroiled entrees including filet mignon.
my favorites are their vegetarian dishes ranging from full Roma pasta to
De Vega Brothers, after all these years, still serves the best eggplant
parmesan in these parts. It's fresh, cut thin for taste and prepared by someone
who obviously knows eggplant is a treat, not a filler.
De Vega Brothers is open Monday throught Friday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.,
Saturday from noon to 10 p.m. and never on a Sunday.
- Manteca Bulletin