Obama jokes with Philly restaurateur at the White House

Restaurateur Marco Lentini, the Wharton graduate who operates Gia Pronto at 1900 Market and at 3736 Spruce, was a guest of President Obama’s at the White House this afternoon where Obama and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner met with a group of small business owners. Before a pool of reporters Obama shared a conversation he had with Lentini today in which he asked the restaurateur “what was the equivalent at his shop for a cheese steak?” Lentini replied “It’s our Chicken Italiano. It's a chicken cutlet, spinach Florentine, sharp provolone, all on an Italian ciabatta bread. “Right,” replied Obama. “So I wanted to know if there was Whiz on that. And he said, no.” “Marco is an example of what small business is all about,” said Obama. The transcript comes courtesy of the White House Press Office, which also noted laughter at various points in the exchange between Obama and Lentini.

Lentini told us Monday that he was humbled by the invitation to the White House but, more than that, it was a whole lotta fun. The 33-year-old got to introduce Obama to a roomful of reporters and business leaders. Lentini spoke to the crowd about how his business will save $26,000 this year due to a provision of the stimulus package.