Tico Gets a New Chef and a Menu Overhaul

New tacos, new tasting menus, and a focus on ceviche.


Michael Schlow has promoted Leo Asaro to Executive Chef at Tico. Asaro will me implementing a brand new menu starting this week.

Michael Schlow’s Latin American restaurant, Tico, one of Esquire‘s Best New Restaurants of 2011, is going through some dramatic changes. Starting on March 25, there will be a brand new menu and a new executive chef manning the kitchen. Former Via Matta (Schlow’s rustic Italian restaurant) executive chef, Leo Asaro, takes over and is bringing with him a much more accessible menu inspired by his travels in Barcelona and Madrid. “I wouldn’t say it was a complete overhaul,  but a good 50-60% of the menu has changed,” says Asaro.

Schlow and Asaro’s new menu is now divided into six categories: Ceviche, Tacos, A La Plancha, Small Plates, Entrées, and Can’t Decide. The Can’t Decide category is a choice of three tasting menus, starting with the “Kind of Hungry.” The priciest and most involved, called the “Full on TICO Experience,” includes six small plates, two planchas, two tacos, and multiple desserts.

scallop ceviche

Scallop ceviche from TICO’s new ceviche menu. Leo Asaro’s new menu debuts on March 25.

Asaro says he’s most proud of his ceviche and crudo section, which will feature the freshest possible seafood from Island Creek Oysters and various purveyors in Chatham. The spring menu includes five ceviche options including one with razor clams and pineapple and a local scallop ceviche with cayenne, lime, and Basquaise peppers. 

Other upgrades include a spring lamb entree, duck tacos with charred Serrano peppers, Spanish octopus a la plancha with tangerines and pickled leeks, and a prime bavette steak accompanied by a “Cabo Sauce,” essentially a Latin-inspired pesto (charred leek tops, onion tops, jalapeno, tomatillos, cilantro, lime juice, and cashews). 

octopus a la plancha

Octopus a la plancha served with tangerines, pickled leeks, and aji amarillo peppers.

Asaro is a St. Louis native who interned with Daniel Boulud in New York after graduating from Johnson & Wales in Providence. He worked briefly with Jamie Bissonnette at Toro, but has spent most of his culinary career under the tutelage of James Beard award-winning chef/owner Michael Schlow.

“Having known and worked with Leo for almost 10 years at Radius and Via Matta, I have watched him grow from a young, passionate line cook into a great chef with excellent instincts and technique,” said Michael Schlow through a press release. “I am thrilled to see Leo take over as executive chef, as his inventiveness and bold flavors will bring new excitement to Tico.”

tico menu