Bam’s Restaurant in Carmel serves up good food and community


Photo Credit: Benjamin Allen/HudValley Photo

A red and white cottage-style building sits harmoniously among the neighboring homes and businesses along Stoneleigh Avenue in Carmel, New York which is exactly what appealed to Michael Bambace. Bambace is the owner and chef at Bam’s Restaurant, a place he designed to make people feel welcome, build strong relationships with each other, and slow down to eat a good meal.

“People come to this area for a small town feel, to be part of a community,” says Bambace who opened the restaurant in August 2019.

Photo credit: Benjamin Allen/HudValley Photo

While it may seem conventional from the outside, personality abounds inside, with walls covered in comical sayings, license plates, Caddyshack characters, local police and firehouse patches, and a shelf displaying a range of hot sauces for the taking. Bam’s instantly feels like walking into a friend's home, with causal wooden tables and a small counter with bar stools to eat at. 

Photo credit: Benjamin Allen/HudValley Photo

While balancing work in the kitchen, Bambace is often found in conversation with customers, laughter overflowing. It is not uncommon for adjacent tables to join in. The sense of community is strong. Additional outdoor seating offers a place where people are welcome to bring their pawed pals who drink from an offered water bowl (and occasionally get bacon scraps if their owner is agreeable) because “everyone is welcome.”

Photo credit: Benjamin Allen/HudValley Photo

Bam’s Restaurant and its menu showcase Bambace’s extensive experience in the culinary world. He grew up watching cooking shows and would try out recipes on a hot plate in his bedroom. He went on to become culinary trained and worked in high-volume venues like the Rye Town Hilton, Westchester Country Club, and the former IBM facility. These experiences taught him that a good chef knows how to use ingredients to create a quality menu. More importantly, he takes pride in his ability to keep a thoroughly clean kitchen. In his 20-plus years in the food industry, Bambace has never received any critical violations.

A considerable all-day breakfast menu entices with home-style choices while travel-inspired creations enhance the offerings. Captain’s Toast features a spiced rum-infused French style toast with sauteed bananas. El Bandito is a savory poached egg on grilled cornbread with chorizo and topped with cheese. Bambace enjoys learning about new techniques while traveling and bringing that inspiration back to expand the menu. Mostly, it’s about creating dishes that people will savor. “When I drop a plate and people say ‘holy crap’ as they take a bite or, even better, sit in silence, that is my greatest reward. I know they are enjoying the plates,” says Bambace.

Photo credit: Benjamin Allen/HudValley Photo

Everything at Bam’s is made fresh and from scratch. The lunch and dinner menu includes wings, burgers, wraps, and salads along with dishes like chicken and waffles, Philly cheese steaks, Ahi tuna burgers, Tuscan chicken wrap, and Cuban paninis. Friday evenings Bam’s hosts a BBQ night with slow-cooked smoked meats served from 6:00 - 8:00 p.m. Bambace loves a good challenge, too. If it’s not on the menu, “just ask.”

Croton Falls resident Francesca Neri , a self-proclaimed "regular,” boasts that the classic bacon, egg, and cheese is “the best in all of Westchester.” Bambace agrees and attributes that to his careful selection of suppliers. Demanding quality in every aspect of his business, he gathers ingredients from the best sources around. “I don’t do things fancy. I just do them right,” says Bambace. The coffee is supplied from a roaster in Port Chester; the rolls from Cassones in the Bronx. Supporting local vendors is important, furthering his mission to support the surrounding community. “I like to use local and help keep other people in business too.”

Photo Credit: Benjamin Allen/HudValley Photo

Bam’s offers many allergy-friendly options like gluten-free pancakes that are as fluffy as they are delicious. A customer with a gluten allergy loved spending time at the restaurant so much that she asked for a job. She and Bambace would work together in the kitchen to come up with many gluten-friendly recipes including the use of a dedicated fryer. Plant-based butter and other alternatives support dairy-free, kosher, and other dietary restrictions. “I want everyone to be able to eat together at my tables,” declares Bambace. That includes consideration for parents who are hoping to enjoy a warm meal while dining with small children. He can be seen changing the channel on the wall-mounted TVs from a ball game to cartoons, making his special “bite-sized” pancakes or using cookie cutter shapes for added fun and even presenting the food in small pieces for the children to optimize their parents' experience as well.

Bambace is hopeful to provide a place where everyone can enjoy a meal together. Photo credit: Benjamin Allen/HudValley Photo

Bambace is known for delivering food to customers who have become “family” as they recover from surgery, offering the full-day breakfast menu in part for shift workers at the nearby Putnam Hospital and provides catering for nearby offices. Every Friday morning, a dedicated corner of the restaurant hosts a group of retired police officers who live locally. “It's important to be grateful to those who serve,” says Bambace. Discounts are offered to military members on Tuesdays, seniors on Wednesdays, law enforcement on Thursdays, and healthcare workers on Fridays. Reasonable pricing reflects a desire to make sure that everyone eats fairly. This generosity is often returned as patrons who call Bam’s a second home give back by offering to help maintain the landscaping, pick up a broom to sweep the front step, or even purchase stools for the counter.

The corner table is dedicated to retired police officers who meet each Friday morning. Photo credit: Benjamin Allen/HudValley Photo

“I would not have made it this far without my friends,” admits Bambace, especially opening shortly before the pandemic. “Customers have become like family to me. Running a restaurant is a big responsibility. There are always challenges that come up and my customers and I are here for each other. Every day that I show up, I show up for them.”

Photo credit: Benjamin Allen/HudValley Photo

Bam’s Restaurant is located at 166 Stoneleigh Ave, Carmel Hamlet, NY 10512

(845) 276-5170

You can order through Grub Hub and DoorDash as well.

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