Two major closures, pizza ’n’ burgers, and comfort Malaysian

In spite of the holiday season and economy, important restaurant openings are keeping pace with the latest closures.

Jeffrey Fine and his team have opened a second I Love Burgers location in Town Square on a site formerly home to Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizzas. I love the bacon burger, and plan to eat one again soon. But perhaps the coolest thing about this place is what you pay: Prices are almost 50 percent less than those at the Venetian location.

I stopped by the new, top-rated D’Amore’s Famous Pizza in the Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood. This Boston-based chain has been deemed the No. 1 pizza joint nationally in various surveys, but I don’t get it.

This D’Amore’s is a cafeteria/steam table selling pizzas by the slice reheated to order, and tired Italian fare such as chicken Parmesan and lasagna in pools of tomato sauce. I tried the chicken parm, and found it similar to what you get at any Sbarro at the mall. Big deal!

As to the pizza, I had a thick-crusted Sicilian and a Boston-style thin crust. The crust, in both cases, was fine, but the pizza was boring, and the sausage—in pellets shaped like mouse droppings—tasted as if it had been recently thawed. So unless you’re starving, I say hightail it to the secret pizza place on the third floor at the Cosmo instead.

Two high-profile casino restaurant closures also took place during the past few weeks. The 400-seat Dos Caminos at the Palazzo, a Mexican concept that never seemed to take flight, has finally closed following a “bitter battle” with its landlord, Sheldon Adelson. At Mandalay Bay, the upscale, Tony Chi-designed Shanghai Lilly, which had great Peking duck, is shuttered now. Neither casino has announced what will fill the spaces as yet, but there is a rumor that Rick Moonen is negotiating with the brass at MGM Resorts International to take possession of the space.

It’s good news for fans of superstar chef Alex Stratta, a contestant on the third season of Top Chef Masters. Stratta, and his former protégé Joe Swan, will be opening an Italian pizzeria/restaurant in the Big Apple, called Bigoli. I’ll make a trip there at some point in 2012.

Finally, Island Malaysian Cuisine has replaced Penang in Pacific Asian Mall at 5115 W. Spring Mountain Road. The décor isn’t any different than before, and the menu is similar to Penang’s, but different owners are cooking the dishes and running the place. So if you’re jonesin’ for char kway teow noodles, satay or green beans cooked in Malaysian shrimp paste, take heart. Those three and dozens of other dishes eaten on the Malay Peninsula are in good form here.

Hungry, yet?

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