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Cox: Fun scene, good fare at Bastoni

  • A banh mi meatball sandwich is served at the Bastoni half of Forchetta/Bastoni in Sebastopol on Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2013. (CONNER JAY / The Press Democrat)

Sebastopol's Forchetta/Bastoni is two separate restaurants and a bar, all under one roof. About two years ago, this column focused on Forchetta. This time, the focus is on Bastoni — the Italian word for sticks (as in chopsticks). As the names imply, Forchetta (Italian for fork) is an Italian restaurant, while Bastoni is all about Southeast Asian food.

The bar serves customers at both places, and has two happy hours, one from 3 to 6 p.m. daily and a second one from 9 p.m. until closing on Fridays and Saturdays. These happy hours are popular, so if the bar stools are filled, there are a few tables by the bar and some seating outside on a shaded back patio where you enter the building from the downtown plaza parking lot.

Asian food goes well with beer, so choose among several draft beers or bottles from local craft breweries, or go to the wine list for a chilled white to go with your dinner. There's a Vinho Verde from Portugal for $26, a Picpoul from France for $28, and a dry Gewurztraminer by Halleck from Saralee Kunde's vineyard for $56, among many other choices. Bastoni offers a dozen of its own specialty cocktails as well.

Forchetta/Bastoni

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To the right of the bar is Bastoni's open kitchen and a marble counter with eight stools where you can watch your dinner being put together. More Bastoni seating is up a flight of stairs on a landing, while Forchetta's tables and wood-burning oven are farther back in the building.

Bastoni is where you can finally land that Banh Mi sandwich ($12, 3 stars) sandwich you've been hankering for. It's a goodie: sloppy with two sauces and a swath of mayonnaise, toothsome with shreds of house-pickled daikon radish and carrots, stuffed with marinated chicken (or you can choose among tofu, meatballs, seared steak, or prawns), all served on a rustic ciabatta roll.

It's possible to load up your banh mi with so many extras you won't be able to fit it into your mouth, so you can also order them on the side. They include fried curry rice balls, a six-minute farm egg, cucumbers, fried chicken skin, crispy jalapeños, crispy green beans, Spam, or one of four Asian salads.

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