(Note: this thread was split from a thread on the SF Bay board at: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/835568 - The Chowhound Team)
Not to hijack the post, but given the OP's inability to find good Italian food in OC, I thought I might recommend Mangia Mangia in Huntington Beach. Mangia Mangia is an unassuming restaurant in a suburban strip mall, run by two brothers who moved from Italy in 1987 (Pietro and Giussepe). While it may not look like much, the place has been my family's spot for classic Italian dishes for the last 25 years. This is not a generic "red sauce" restaurant like Bucca Di Beppo, but rather one where each dish is individually crafted with delicious results. My Grandpa was a first generation Italian-American who grew up in New York, and this was his favorite all-time restaurant because the brothers would make his beloved shrimp fra diavolo especially for him even when it wasn't on the daily menu. I've never had the veal parm, but given the quality of some of the other dishes (the manicotti is awesome), I can't imagine it's bad. Also, be sure not to miss the tirimisu if they haven't run out, it's the best I've ever had.
Here is the link for Mangia Mangia. It may save you a trip up to San Francisco!