Originally Posted by Ekim
What do anchovies add? I always thought they were salty and oily. What else do they bring to the party?
You're probably thinking about some pizza you once had with anchovies that made you gasp for breath when you took a bite of one ... they were so salty ... and provided a reason to order another pitcher, or two, of beer.
An anchovie fillet or two, added in the early part of the sauce (when you're sauteing the onions and garlic for example) will melt and just add another flavor layer/component - something that you can't identify but you know it's there - and wonder what it is. It's like Worcestershire sauce - you don't taste the anchovies, do you?
It's impossible to tell you what was in the sauce you tasted ... I didn't taste it. From what I know of Italian cooking - the tangy zip would be more likely to come from lemon juice than balsamic vinegar (Italians tend to use lemon juice in cooking and save the Balsamic for a condiment to dress something) - and anchovies, as well as the capers, could also provide a background flavor in the zing .... it was just a thought.
If they place you tasted this sauce is still around - go back and try it again ... and ask for the manager and "rave" about how good the sauce is ... and say, "there's something in here I just can't put my finger on .... what's your recipe?"
9 times out of 10 if it's a small Mom-n-Pop place they will give it to you. Sometimes, you get some place like a famous TexMex place we have here in town (Joe T. Garcia's) and they don't let anyone outside the family know the recipe ... ARRGH!!!