It’s her third day as proprietor of Hot Daisy Pizza, and Tammie Coe — the classically trained pastry chef famous for ooey-gooey cupcakes, big cookies and whimsical fondant-covered cakes — seems to be having fun in her new role as pie slinger. At 3:30 in the afternoon, her tiny Roosevelt Row shop (formerly known as Tammie Coe Cakes) enjoys a steady stream of curious neighborhood customers, eager to try a slice of pepperoni or margherita or veggie or corny baby-elote or potato-bacon or just feggettaboutit (a margherita with pepperoni and white truffle burrata). Coe’s pies, which she describes as “New York meets California,” are 14-inchers, each generous slice amounting to a quarter of a pie. She runs specials every day and offers plenty of cool ingredients — including arugula, giardiniera, spicy artichoke, prosciutto and egg — to build your own personal version of the perfect pie.
Having tried a few different slices, I’d say her crust is reminiscent of a great baguette — sturdy with a nice balance between airiness and chew. Personal faves so far include the Elote, the Italian Stallion with an add-on of chunky, spicy fire fighter-style sauce and the ridiculously good mac and cheese pizza, a special. Yes, gooey, gloriously cheese-y mac and cheese, some of the noodles burnished in the oven, globbed atop that splendid crust. Pure heaven for a carbaholic like me.
Her shop still offers loads of cakes, cookies and other sweets (the only 86’d item from the bakery days being muffins) as well as a changing grab-and-go section, which, on my visit, features variously sized Kale Caesar salads, roasted potatoes with generous pats of butter and meatballs in tomato sauce with basil and mozzarella. Coe and I stood at a high, stainless-steel table outside the front door (just right for wolfing down a slice or two) and talked about her new venture.
PM: So how long have you been at this location now?
Coe: 18 years. I love it. There’s so much here, so much activity. We know a lot of our customers. Of course, it’s changed a lot in that time, become more gentrified, I guess you’d say.
Didn’t Il Bosco just open down the street? Are you worried about that?
No, it’s healthy. It brings in more people. We can all work together.
What made you do this, move into the world of pizza?
Well, you know, nothing much has changed. We’ve just added pizza. You can love cupcakes, but you might not eat a cupcake every day. Pizza is different. I’ve had this idea in the works for about two and half years.
Has there been a learning curve?
I’ve always made doughs. As a baker, you follow rules; you have recipes. I’ve always made pizza for staff meal too, but yeah, I’ve been working like a mad scientist on the crust for about four years.
And what did you arrive at?
Well, I’m in love with our dough. I didn’t want to reinvent the wheel but just make something yummy with great texture, something user-friendly. You don’t have to dress up for this pizza. It’s like wear your PJs and drink Champagne, you know? The dough is not too sweet, not too acidic, just good pizza.
What kind of oven do you use? Did you already have an oven here?
We’ve never had an oven here. I always baked at the commissary. We have two 800-degree hoodless Turbochefs. We can do 20 pizzas in an hour. They’re great, fast. Just don’t walk away or you’ll burn the pizza.
What’s up with the name, which I think is really cute, by the way?
I saw it as a pizza somewhere and just thought it worked.
Well, it’s a little girlie, and you are a girl.
Yeah, it’s a little about me.