I love pizza. I love dogs. Why not combine the two? No, I do not mean pizza with poodle pepperoni on top. I mean a restaurant that serves excellent pizza while helping to find homes for lost dogs. And did I mention, also serves the gluten-free community?
Yes, such a gem exists. The Lost Dog Café has two locations in Arlington Virginia, and, according to their website, a third location is coming soon to McLean. We visited the South Arlington location on Columbia Pike, which sits in a strip mall next to its sister establishment, the Stray Cat Café. Both restaurants donate some of their profits to the Lost Dog and Cat Foundation (although the seating hostess was a bit vague on percentages when we asked). The restaurant uses gluten-free pizza crust from Still Riding, a company which partners with local pizzerias across the country to provide gluten-free pizza crust to customers. The Lost Dog Café is also known for its wide beer selection, and the wall-length beer fridge includes gluten-free New Grist beer as well as naturally gluten-free Woodchuck cider. That’s right, at the Lost Dog Café, you can get gluten-free pizza and beer with the gluten-eaters!
The décor of the restaurant is, shall we say, overwhelmingly canine. Artsy murals of dogs riding motorcycles, buying coffee, and of course, playing billiards line the walls and many of the menu items are doggy-themed, such as Pitbull Pie, Kennel Club Salad, and “Dog Collars” aka onion rings. We ordered Yogi the Lab’s Pie on gluten-free crust. Our busy server, Jock, informed us that the pie is only available in the individual size. He seemed used to fielding questions about gluten-free dining, because when we asked about cross-contamination conditions he briefly told us that “It’s cooked in separate pan… We get it a lot,” presumably meaning that they receive quite a few orders for the gluten-free pizza and understand how to handle it.
The Lost Dog Café sure knows how to put toppings on a pizza! The Yogie the Lab Pie consisted of barbeque chicken, mozzarella, red onion, and green onion, with a sweet and slightly spicy barbeque sauce instead of tomato sauce. And the crust from Still Riding? Light and fluffy on the inside, but crispy on the outside. I recently made pizza crust with a gluten-free mix, and although tasty, it was heavy and bready, so I was pleasantly surprised by the lightness and crispiness of the Still Riding crust. They’ve managed to make a gluten-free crust that really tastes like New-York style pizzeria crust!
However, the good feeling died a bit when the check came. We didn’t realize that it was $4 extra for the gluten-free crust, in addition to the menu pricing of the specialty pie. I know that gluten-free food always has a bigger price tag, but for the individual-sized GF pizza to be $16.45 while the large Ricky Ricotta regular-crust pizza our table ordered was $19.95 seemed a bit outrageous.
The verdict? The gluten-free pizza at the Lost Dog Café is absolutely delicious, if you’re willing to foot the bill. And to be able to enjoy a dinner out with friends and not have to longingly stare at their cheese-covered crusty pizza, I’d say it might be worth it every now and then. Plus, you’re helping dogs!
The Lost Dog Café has two locations at 2920 Columbia Pike, Arlington, VA 22204 and 5876 Washington Blvd, Arlington, VA 22205.
If you’re not in Virginia, check out our gluten-free restaurant guide to find gluten-free pizza near you.
Do you have a pizzeria near you that carries Still Riding crust? What do you think? We’d love to hear from you!