On her first date with Richie, Rocky thought she had a showoff on her hands.
"He was on the telephone all the time," she recalls, "and I thought, this is the Mr. Big act. He's such a busy guy. I said to him, 'Kissinger isn't on the telephone as much as this.' "
Raquel Welch was right about one thing. Richie Palmer was indeed checking on all the dough he was making. The pizza dough, that is. And now, two years later, she's sporting four diamond rings on one finger, courtesy of the Kissinger of pizza.
Pizza as an aphrodisiac. Who knew?
Still, it wasn't love at first slice when Raquel happened into Richie's place in Beverly Hills--the Mulberry Street Pizzeria, which he'd started with ex-flame Cathy Moriarty. Rocky and Richie had met earlier at a party, but several shipments of flowers from Richie had failed to nab her attention. Until Richie discovered the right formula.
"I was fascinated when I met him," Welch says of her 44-year-old Bronx boy. "I thought he was an actor because he was really handsome, and I thought, Oh, God, this is never going to work because he's an actor. I'm an actress so I know. I can't have two of this going on.
"And I still call myself an actress. I'm not an actor. I'm not a guy."
Out & About would like to set the record straight on that. Raquel Welch is not a guy.
Anyway, we are chatting at the home-like office of Welch's publicists, where there is pizza everywhere we turn. In honor of Palmer's launch of Richie's Neighborhood Pizzeria next month at the Irvine Spectrum Mall and the Block in Orange, we have volunteered to inspect his pies over lunch. The still-svelte Welch limits herself to a mere glass of water, but we press on undeterred. We ask Richie to deconstruct his papery-thin New York pizza.
"That one's chicken," he says in a thick Bronx accent. "This one's ricotta cheese, mozzarella cheese and spinach. To tell you the truth, the plain is my favorite. In New York, I never ate a slice with anything on it in my life. You grew up in Brooklyn, which is probably better than the Bronx when it comes to pizza."
The picture is getting clearer. We are mano a mano with a pizza purist. We decide to chow down on a slice of plain and, sure enough, it tastes like a tomatoey hunk of childhood.
Back to Welch and her hunk. When the two get married next summer, one thing is sure. There will be no pizza. Anywhere. That's the rule. Welch should know about things like that. She's a nuptial expert.
She says, "That's what Richie's mother said."
He says his mother said, " 'Was she married before?' I said, 'Yeah.' She said, 'Well, everybody makes a mistake.' I said, 'No, Ma. She was married more than once.' She said, 'A couple of times is OK.' I said, 'Well, Ma, it was three.'
"She said, 'Well, maybe this time, she'll get it right.' "
Oh, yes. Richie wants to add one more thing.
"I make pizza, but I really want to direct. Put that in there."