Shipwright's Daughter, Jacques Pépin, Sally's Apizza honored at CT Restaurant Association awards

Photo of Leeanne Griffin

Mystic's flourishing food scene was further bolstered this week, as restaurants, chefs and bartenders from the seaside village earned top awards and honors at the Connecticut Restaurant Association's CRAzies Awards ceremony Monday.

The Shipwright's Daughter at The Whaler's Inn earned the statewide honor of 2022 Restaurant of the Year, while Renee Touponce, the executive chef of Oyster Club and Port of Call, was named Chef of the Year. Sebastian Guerrero of Port of Call was named Bartender of the Year.

Materia Ristorante of Bantam won the Restaurant Newcomer award, which highlights the best new restaurant in the state.

Executive chef Renee Touponce holds her squid ink empanadas in front of the "underwater" mural at the Port of Call's Dive Bar in Mystic.

Executive chef Renee Touponce holds her squid ink empanadas in front of the "underwater" mural at the Port of Call's Dive Bar in Mystic.

Lisa Nichols / Special to Hearst Connecticut Media

The Connecticut Restaurant Association also honored Chef Jacques Pépin, a Madison resident since 1976, with a lifetime achievement award. The renowned French chef has more than six decades of culinary accolades to celebrate, as an author, television host, Daytime Emmy Lifetime Achievement Award winner and 16-time James Beard Foundation award winner.

Jacques Pepin in his Connecticut kitchen.

Jacques Pepin in his Connecticut kitchen.

Frank Whitman / For Hearst Connecticut Media

The CRA recognizes four different regional winners for Restaurant of the Year, as well as an overall winner from the 16 nominees. 

North Region (Hartford & Tolland Counties) winner: The Charles in Wethersfield.

South Region (Middlesex & New Haven Counties) winner: Tavern on State in New Haven.

East Region (New London & Windham Counties) winner: The Shipwright’s Daughter, Mystic.

West Region (Fairfield & Litchfield Counties) winner: Kawa Ni, Westport.

Shane McGowan, left, and Emily Mingrone, co-owners of Tavern on State in New Haven.

Shane McGowan, left, and Emily Mingrone, co-owners of Tavern on State in New Haven.

Winter Caplanson/ CT Food & Farm

Other awards included:

Vendor of the YearGulf Shrimp Company , Plantsville.

Baker of the Year: Pierluigi Mazzella from Fatto a Mano, Monroe.

Bartender of the Year : Sebastian Guerrero from The Port of Call, Mystic.

Server of the Year: Lamott Britto from Grano Arso, Chester.

Caterer of the Year: DORO Catering & Events, West Hartford.

• With the 2022 People’s Choice Award, the public selects their favorite dining establishment in Connecticut across any genre of food or style of dining. The winner was Mecha Noodle Bar, with Connecticut locations in Fairfield, New Haven, Norwalk, Stamford and West Hartford.

Red oil dumplings at Mecha Noodle Bar

Red oil dumplings at Mecha Noodle Bar

Courtesy of Mecha Noodle Bar

Previously announced winners included:

•  The 2022 Restaurateurs of the Year are Phil Barnett & Mike Hamlin of Hartford Restaurant Group, who own and operate Wood-N-Tap restaurants throughout Connecticut along with Southington's Que Whiskey Kitchen.

Blackie’s Hot Dogs (Cheshire) and Sally’s Apizza (New Haven and Stamford) are the inductees for the 2022 Connecticut Hospitality Hall of Fame.

The 2022 Friend of the Industry Award went to Speaker of the House Matt Ritter.

The CRA also recognized four local restaurants for their positive impact on the industry, the workforce and the communities they serve, including BeanZ & Co. in Avon, Coffee for Good in Greenwich, Craig’s Kitchen in Vernon and RD86 in New London.

A large pizza at Sally's Apizza in New Haven on April 23, 2021.

A large pizza at Sally's Apizza in New Haven on April 23, 2021.

Lisa Nichols



Scott Dolch, president and CEO of the Connecticut Restaurant Association, said nearly 1,300 guests attended the ceremony Monday at Foxwoods Resort Casino, including Gov. Ned Lamont.

"The CRAzies once again showcased the exceptional talents our industry has to offer, and we look forward to building on this success each and every year as we encourage everyone in hospitality to take part in this annual celebration," Dolch said in a statement.