A Relaxed Dining Experience For The Whole Family
Alfonso Wence has been a chef for more than 28 years, and unlike many others in his profession, Alfonso is self-taught.
He began his culinary career at the café inside of Nordstrom and then transitioned to what used to be Beeb’s Sports Bar & Grill in Livermore. It was there that Alfonso became the kitchen manager and started coming up with his own recipes and specials. “My husband always kept a close eye on the chefs he worked with in order to better himself in every area. He has a lot of recipes under his belt,” said Alfonso’s wife, Norma. “The hardest part for him is to narrow it down to just a menu.”
In 2006 Alfonso and Norma decided to enter into restaurant ownership, opening a pizza parlor in Oakland’s industrial area. The Wences owned that restaurant for three years, and in that time Alfonso’s spectacular cuisine built him quite a following, some of which tracked him down afterwards just to taste his cooking. After making the decision to move on in 2009, Alfonso spent time working in Walnut Creek expanding his cuisine, and after an 8-year hiatus, the couple was ready to jump back into ownership. This time, however, it would be in their hometown. “We’ve lived in Brentwood since 1998 and figured it would be nice to not have to commute anymore,” said Norma.
Despite the variety of options currently available in Brentwood, that hasn’t always been the case. “We’ve seen Brentwood grow, but there wasn’t always much to choose from to go out to lunch or dinner in the early years,” said Norma. “We would typically just eat wherever our girls wanted to eat, and if we wanted anything more special, we would cook at home.” Alfonso’s desire was always to bring his vast knowledge and culinary passion to his own community.
Wence House CC opened in July 2017, bringing California Cuisine to locals and visitors. “Our restaurant offers a little bit of everything,” said Norma. “We named it Wence House because Wence is our last name, and House because we wanted it to feel like home when patrons come dine with us.” From fish & chips and burgers to seabass and pasta and even chicken wings, Wence House truly has something for everyone. “We wanted a family atmosphere done right, where kids can have their own cheeseburger and fries off of the kids’ menu while mom can enjoy seabass with gnocchi and pesto.” New daily specials are offered every day, one for lunch and a different one for dinner so there is always a wide variety of options. “Every day I ask Alfonso what we’re having, and at times I inspire him by something I pick up at the farmer’s market and challenge him to make something with it.” Before the weather cooled down, Wence House was using heirloom tomatoes from Smith Family Farms, and they’re slowly trying to get their name out and partner with other farms to take advantage of all of the produce Brentwood has to offer.
Since opening last summer, customers’ favorites have a tendency to fluctuate. Fish & chips is an automatic favorite, but now it seems to be the porkchops, which is a new discovery for many diners. “Most of our customers who order the porkchops come by word of mouth that they have to try it,” said Norma. “It comes with a pancetta shitake mushroom sauce on top. I love seeing their reactions because they’re not expecting it.” Another unique option is grilled salmon with roasted corn cream sauce and the seabass with creamy gnocchi pesto sauce topped with bay shrimp. Wence House also has delicious staples like bruschetta with creamy ricotta, tarte tomatoes, parmesan, and sweet balsamic on perfectly toasted bread. You can’t go wrong with a cheeseburger on a brioche bun and a sky-high BLT. All of the desserts are made in-house from scratch, as well as the dressings. “We’ve had customers who have moved out here from the City say that our restaurant is like what they had out there,” said Norma. “They’re so happy to not have to travel far for excellent cuisine.”
Those who visit Wence House CC can expect good food and friendly service where they’re made to feel at home. “We try to memorize names and welcome back return customers with a smile,” said Norma. It is a true family affair at Wence House. Norma and Alfonso are both hands-on. “We’re not just overseeing. We’re in it. I’m a busser, server, hostess, whatever I need to be at any given time.” The Wence’s oldest daughter is 18 and is a hostess/busser. The younger two help dad out in the back, assisting with desserts, measuring portions, and chopping. “They love being involved.”
Norma’s hope for the future of Wence House CC is to see growth in every area. “A lot of customers already tell me that we need to get a bigger place,” said Norma. “I tell them to give me at least a few years here!” The next time you’re in the mood for something different but don’t want to travel far, try Wence House. They can accommodate up to 45 people indoors or on their outside patio, fully equipped with heat lamps, so bring your friends and family!
Business: Wence House CC
Address: 6670 Lone Tree Way, Suite 1, Brentwood, CA 94513
Tel: (925) 420-3969
Photos by: Ron Essex Photography