A total of 47 officers were injured after 34 petrol bombs, hundreds of fireworks and pieces of masonry were thrown at them in the Carlisle Circus, Clifton Street and Antrim Road areas.
The trouble flared after a loyalist crowd of up to 350 people gathered to protest at a march organised by a Republican Flute Band.
Chief Supt George Clarke said there is "no doubt" the violence was organised, however it is too early to say if paramilitaries were involved.
"The violence did come from both sides of the community but initially, certainly, it came from within loyalism," he told UTV. "That's a fact.
"There was clearly orchestration, there's no doubt about that.
"Three hundred people on Clifton Street, masonry broken up by people using concrete saws, there's no doubt about orchestration, but I'm not going to stand here and tell you I believe an organisation was involved - it's frankly too early to say that."
However Ken Wilkinson of the PUP disagreed and criticised the Parades Commission for allowing the event to go ahead.
"What I saw was not orchestrated," he said. "It started as a peaceful demonstration against a republican parade.
"There has been a few contentious parades here in the last couple of weeks and for the Parades Commission to say this wasn't going to be contentious, taking place within 100 yards of a predominately loyalist estate facing an Orange Hall, boggles the mind."
All of us in civic society need to engage seriously on these issues before they result in further unacceptable violence being displayed against my officers.
Chief Constable Matt Baggott
Stormont's deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said the decisions of the Parades Commission must be respected and upheld.
"There is a duty on the loyal orders and on Unionist politicians to respect the decisions of the Parades Commission and abide by the rule of law," Mr McGuinness told UTV.
"I unreservedly condemn these riots."
Meanwhile Nelson McCausland of the DUP said he was "disappointed" with what had happened.
"The violence yesterday was organised and orchestrated and the question as to the motivation behind the orchestration is better put to those who organised it," he said.
"I'm very disappointed that we've seen such violence again. Whatever the background, whatever the reasons there is nothing that justify that."
Justice Minister David Ford said the Stormont Executive discussed the issue on Monday afternoon.
He said the First and deputy First Ministers are to meet community leaders in north Belfast.
"Clearly as Justice Minister, I am extremely worried about the outcome of yesterday's march. The fact that 47 police officers were injured is a disgrace. It has to be addressed in a way in which ensures that we do not ask police officers to hold the line in future in such a way," the Alliance leader said.
Alban Maginness of the SDLP said: "Worryingly, last night's rioting appears to be further defiance of law and order, the PSNI and the Parades Commission. It's time for politicians, particularly, to show some leadership to defuse tensions and create a better environment where people can live in peace without fear of coming under attack."
Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt said: "The violence on the streets yesterday was wrong, legally and morally wrong. And to the extent that some of it came from the loyalist and unionist community, it was strategically wrong as well, playing into the hands of those republicans who want to write off any attempt to make progress."
Most of the overnight violence was directed at police lines. Officers responded with water cannons and the area was reported calm at around 2am on Monday.
Four officers whose injuries required hospital treatment have now been discharged.
A 17-year-old boy has been charged with riotous assembly, assault on police and resisting arrest, and is due to appear at Belfast Youth Court on Tuesday.
Chief Constable Matt Baggott said: "I am very proud of the courage and restraint shown by my officers last evening, in the face of extreme violence that resulted in 47 officers being injured and a number needing hospital treatment."
The chairman of the Policing Board, Brian Rea, also condemned those responsible and said members will be discussing the issue with Mr Baggott at their meeting on Thursday.
He said: "The sporadic violence and disorder was disgraceful and the large number of police officers injured is both shocking and shameful.
"There is no justification whatsoever for such violence been directed at our officers."